What is the UV index?
The UV Index is an international measurement that indicates the daily strength of UV rays.
It’s a tool that allows you to gauge your degree of risk. For example, when it’s best to wear a hat and apply sunscreen, or when it’s better to avoid being outside entirely.
The index is on a scale from 0 to 11, with 0 being the lowest risk level and 11 being the highest.
Here is a quick guide to the UV Index:
0-2.9: Low-risk level
This is low risk for most people. You should wear sunglasses if the sun reflects off the snow and wear low sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen for year-round protection, especially if you have fair skin.
3-5.9: Moderate risk level
Here individuals may want to seek shade during the midday hours and wear clothing that covers the entire body.
6-7.9: High-risk level
This index indicates that the sun rays are dangerous. Protective clothing and SPF 30+ cream are needed. You should protect your eyes with sunglasses and seek shade.
8-10.9: Very high-risk level
This level usually occurs on hot summer days. It is recommended to apply sunscreen, stay indoors during midday hours and stay hydrated with plenty of water.
11+: Extreme risk level
You should take all precautions as this level of radiation indicates health dangers beyond sunburn. Hats, protective clothes, and SPF should be worn at all times. You should also reapply sunscreen every two hours. If possible, avoid the sun during the middle of the day, from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
5 Tips to protect against UV exposure
1. Protect against UV rays
Remember, the sun’s UV rays can reflect off water, sand, concrete and snow, and can even reach below the water’s surface. Certain types of UV light penetrate fog and clouds, so it is possible to get sunburnt even on overcast days or during the winter.
2. Stay in the shade
A critical way to limit exposure to UV rays is to avoid being in direct sunlight for long periods of time. Be careful when walking outdoors and try to seek shade whenever possible.
3. Apply sunscreen
The British Association of Dermatologists recommends sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher as an effective form of sun protection in addition to protective shade and clothing.
For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen and remember to reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
While sunscreens can’t claim to be waterproof, they can be labelled water-resistant for either 40 or 80 minutes. People can also burn when in the water, so reapplication is essential.
4. Cover up
Clothing can provide an excellent barrier against the sun’s UV rays. Especially as clothing doesn’t wear off like sunscreen!
Many new fabrics offer high-tech protection and are also breathable. The more skin is covered (high neck, long sleeves, pants), the better. A hat with a wide brim all the way around your head (three inches or more) is best because it helps shade your eyes, ears, face and neck. Also, wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect the eyes and the surrounding skin.
Remember, any clothing leaves some skin exposed, so sunscreen is necessary as well. Don’t forget to apply it to the hands, especially after washing them.
5. Avoid tanning beds at all costs
Tanning lamps emit UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause long-term skin damage, and contribute to skin cancer.
Most skin doctors and health organizations recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps.