|SUN OVER-EXPOSURE PUBLIC SAFETY
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
SUN OVER-EXPOSURE DESCRIPTION:
Sun over-exposure is exposure to enough UV radiation to cause the skin to burn. Sun-burns greatly increase the risk of
skin cancer, wrinkles, freckled skin and leathery skin later in life. The use of tanning beds and laying out in the sun
result is long term damage to the skin if done for several years (especially fair-skinned people).
UV INDEX INFORMATION:
UV ACTION ALERT- An alert given on days in which the UV index is very high. Skin should not be exposed to the
sun for more than 10 minutes in the 6-hour period the sun is highest in the sky when the UV index is very high. A clear
day in the summer will have a very high UV Index value.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM THE SUN:
1. Do not use tanning beds or lay out in the sun without the assistance of a medical professional to assess a safe
amount of exposure for your skin type.
2. Do not sun-shock the skin. Sun-shock occurs when the skin has no tolerance to high levels of sun light (such as
laying out in the sun after not exposing yourself to the sun for several months). Sunburns occur more quickly
when the skin has not been exposed to the sun for several months. Begin the exposure to the sun in small time doses, and
increase the exposure time over the course of a few weeks so the body can build better resistance to the sun
3. Wear sunblock if you must expose your skin to the sun for significant periods of time
4. Wear UV protection sun glasses and wear a hat that shades the head, ears and neck when exposed to the sun for
long periods of time
5. Try to limit exposure to the sun when it is near the highest point in the sky. Early morning and late afternoon
sun exposure is much less dangerous
6. Never look directly at the sun
SUNBURN / TANNING MISCONCEPTIONS:
1. It is erroneously thought that someone can get just as much sun exposure on a cloudy day as compared to a sunny day.
The sun exposure is reduced on a cloudy day (especially if it is a rainy day). However, the
amount of sun exposure on a clear day as compared to a partly cloudy day are not much different. The thickness of
the clouds determines how much UV light gets through to the surface.
2. It is erroneously thought that if the skin feels cool it will not sunburn as quickly. Although a
cool breeze or cooler temperatures will make the skin feel more comfortable, it is getting the same dose of
UVV radiation as when the wind is light and temperatures are hot.
3. It is erroneously thought that you can get a sunburn through a window at the same rate as if exposed to direct sunlight.
This is generally not correct. Glass absorbs short wavelength ultraviolet light, but it does pass 350 to 400
nanometer ultraviolet. While this longer wavelength ultraviolet is less harmful than the shorter wavelength variety,
you can still tan or burn if you get enough exposure. Glass is like sunscreen--it protects you pretty well but
it isn't perfect. You will burn much more quickly when driving with the windows down and exposed to the sun
as compared to driving with the windows up and exposed to the sun.
4. It is erroneously thought that taking breaks while sun-bathing reduces the chance for a sunburn. In actuality,
sunburning exposure is cumulative during the day
5. It is erroneously thought that a tan is healthy and protects you from sunburn. In actuality, a tan results
from your body defending itself against further damage from UV. A tan does somewhat protect you from the sun, BUT a
tan over white skin acts only as about an SPF 4 sunscreen. A tan may look beautiful, but that does not
mean the skin is healthier than non-tanned skin
6. It is erroneously thought that water is a sunblock. Shallow water offers minimal protection
from UV, and reflections from water can enhance your UV exposure