July is UV Safety Month
The sun's rays, also called ultraviolet or UV rays, can damage your skin and eyes. The short-term results of unprotected exposure to UV rays are sunburn and tanning. Long-term exposure may cause early wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, dark patches, skin cancer, and potentially blinding conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Your eyes can also receive a sun burn known as photokeratitis, which can cause pain, redness, and tearing. Reflected sunlight--light that bounces off water, for example--can be the most dangerous type of UV light because it is intensified.
People of all ages are at risk for damage from UV rays, including children. To ensure protection, wear sunglasses and a broad-rimmed hat. When selecting sunglasses, make sure they block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. But don't be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the price tag.
The National Weather Service and EPA advise you to regularly check the UV Index, which they developed as a way to predict the next day's UV radiation levels on a 1-11+ scale, helping people determine appropriate sun-protective behaviors. EPA will issue a UV Alert when the level of solar UV radiation is predicted to be unusually high and the risk of overexposure is consequently greater. Also at the EPA site (www.epa.gov), you can check the UV Index forecast map, which shows contour lines of predicted UV Index values during the solar noon hour. The map is created daily from National Weather Service forecast data. (To find the time of solar noon at your location, use the sunrise-sunset-solar noon calculator at the NOAA Web site, http://www.srrb.noaa.gov/highlights/sunrise/sunrise.html.)