July is UV Safety Awareness Month and for the next two months we're going to have days where UV rays will be at their highest. It's important to educate people on the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Why? Because these invisible rays can cause harm to our bodies over time.
Did you know that UV rays are partly responsible for causing your skin to age? Did you know that they can also cause skin cancer? Heat exhaustion and heat strokes are also a result of overexposure to UV rays. For these reasons, AFC Urgent Care Vernon has put together a guide on the basics of sun exposure and UV protection, so that you can enjoy a healthy and safe summer
What Are UV Rays?
You've probably heard of the ozone layer, but do you know what it is? The ozone layer is a region in Earth's upper atmosphere that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It protects against UV rays by absorbing them and breaking them down. If there was no protective ozone layer around our planet, we'd be bombarded with millions more UV rays than we already are exposed to every day!
But what exactly are these "rays" that are being absorbed and broken down so they don't reach us here on Earth? Well, they're not really rays at all! They're actually types of electromagnetic radiation—or energy waves—that can be transmitted through open space or air.
According to the FDA, there are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. Thankfully, for our ozone layer, UVC is filtered out and doesn’t reach us. However, UVA and UVB are the ones that do penetrate through the clouds and could potentially cause harm to our bodies. Overexposure to these rays may lead to skin cancer, serious burns, damage to your eyes, cataracts, and heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
How Can You Protect Yourself From The Sun’s UV Rays?
You should always protect yourself from the sun, even if you're just going for a walk. But on days when UV rays are at their highest—just keep these tips in mind:
- Wear sunglasses and/or closed shoes whenever you're outside (ideally both). This is because UV rays can still get through clouds, so be careful even on cloudy days!
- Wear protective clothing that covers the full body to avoid serious burns
- Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. You can find it at any drugstore or grocery store, and chances are your sunscreen will have SPF 50 on its label as well. If not, look out for the highest one they have!
- Stay inside during peak hours (10am to 4pm). This way your body won't get too much exposure to harmful UV rays while doing everyday activities like working or shopping at the mall.
Overexposure To UV Rays Could Lead To Heat Exhaustion and/or Heatstroke
You know the feeling: you're outside working or taking a walk, and it's hot outside. You can feel your body temperature rising the longer you’re out there in the sun. Your forehead is sweating, but it's not because you're nervous—it's because your body is overheating and needs to cool down fast!
If this sounds like you, then we have good news: heat exhaustion isn't as serious as heat stroke (which requires immediate medical attention), but it still requires treatment if left untreated. Heat exhaustion happens when someone loses too much water through sweat or other methods (like vomiting), causing their bodies' electrolyte levels to fall dangerously low. This causes them to become weak and dizzy—and sometimes even pass out from dehydration. The best way for someone suffering from heat exhaustion is by drinking plenty of fluids (NOT alcohol) and sitting in a shady area where they can cool down slowly by getting out of direct sunlight periodically throughout their day until symptoms go away completely
On the other hand, heat stroke usually occurs in hot temperatures, but it can also happen if you’re overexerting yourself in hot conditions. It's important to know the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke so you can take action before it becomes fatal. The easiest way to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke is to limit outdoor activities during extreme temperatures and wear loose-fitting, light clothing for additional protection from the sun's harmful UV rays.
AFC Urgent Care Vernon Hopes You’re UV Protected This Summer!
Let’s recap what you’ve learned so far about UV safety awareness month:
Please remember to pack your sunscreen when planning a hike, going to the beach or having a cookout. You should always plan ahead and have it on hand so you can properly protect yourself from UV rays. When you’re spending time outdoors or on the road, make sure to look out for signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion like dizziness, nausea and confusion. Keep hydrated with water or sports drinks at all times and stay in shady areas when possible (especially during a heatwave).
We hope you enjoy the 4th of July and if you need us for your urgent care needs, we’re taking walk-ins and offering appointments for tick bites, travel vaccines, COVID-19 testing, summer camp/sports physicals and a whole lot more.