The month of July is UV Safety Month, but what is a UV index and why should you care?
Everyone is exposed to Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and many people are exposed to artificial sources used in various industries such as commerce and recreation.
UV rays from the sun travel down to the surface of the Earth and can cause major damage to our skin. There are two main types of UV rays, that is UVA and UVB.
UVA rays are longer and can cause sun damage that result in aging and wrinkles, while UVB rays will cause sunburn and skin cancer.
Here is the breakdown about each level of the UV Index and how you can protect yourself at each level from zero and above.
The UV Index is calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency via a computer model. That model takes the ground-level strength of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation along with forecasted stratospheric ozone concentration, forecasted cloud amounts, and elevation of the ground.
- A LOW UV Index is rated between 0 and 2. This means that the best option of protection if outside is with sunscreen and sunglasses.
- A MEDIUM UV Index is rated between 3 and 5. This means that the best option of protection adds a hat to our sunscreen and sunglasses.
- A HIGH UV Index is rated between 6 and 7. In addition to the sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat you need to find shade during the day if outside.
- A VERY HIGH UV Index is rated between 8 and 10. This means we need to use sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, light colored clothing and shade.
- AN EXTREME UV Index is anything over 11. This means that you need continue to use sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, light colored clothing and stay in the shade. This goes one step farther and say you need to avoid being outside between the midday when the sun is highest in the sky.
Some conditions can amplify our UV index, such as the beach. White sands can nearly double UV exposure as the sun will reflect off the light-colored object.
During the winter, snow can also double the output of UV strength, as the light-colored object can cause the UV index to rise.
All in all, just by following the UV Index daily, and taking a few precautionary steps can make a difference when going outside in the summer sun.