(ARA) - Warm weather means more time spent enjoying the outdoors: picnics, bike rides, hikes and sporting events. While the summer months should be enjoyed to the fullest, outdoor enthusiasts must remember that the sun, with all of the benefits it brings, also has many dangerous effects.
The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest during the spring and summer; unprotected skin and eyes can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes. While applying sunscreen and wearing sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection is important throughout the year, taking extra sun-safety precautions during the summer is especially important.
Try these simple tips on your next trip to the park, pool, beach or casual stroll outside and learn to enjoy the sun safely:
* Wear sunscreen: While this may seem like a no-brainer, many people still need to be reminded. Keep some handy in your car, purse and around the house. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 protects the skin from the sun. Apply one ounce of sunscreen (about the size of a ping pong ball) to all sun-exposed areas of the body. Don't forget the ears, feet and behind the neck. Because sunscreen can take up to 30 minutes to go into full effect, it's a good idea to apply it at home before going outside.
* Wear the right shades: Find a pair of sunglasses that will give you adequate UVA/UVB protection so you can reduce the risk of burning your retina, cornea or eyelids. Most of us don't realize it when sunglasses do not provide adequate UV protection. If you wear sunglasses that feature UV blocking lenses, but the frame does not block sunlight from reaching your eyes from the sides, you are still being exposed to harmful UV rays. For example, Solar Shield Sunglasses feature Advanced UV Protection designs that help protect your eyes through the combination of 100 percent UV protection lenses and frames that wrap around to block stray light.
* Wear protective clothing: Warmer weather inevitably means less clothing, especially when you're laying by the pool or on the beach. When bathing suit shopping this summer, pick up a few lightweight wraps and cover shirts; they offer much more protection than sunscreen.
* Cover your head: Whether it is a baseball cap or floppy, wide-brimmed hat, find one to protect your head and face during the summer months and wear it. Anything that keeps your sensitive scalp protected is going to lower your chances of skin cancer.
* Avoid the danger times: The Food and Drug Administration says that UVA/UVB rays are at their most dangerous from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Do your best to stay in the shade and stay even more on top of your sun protection during those hours. If you must be in the sun during peak hours, be sure to wear SPF 30 sunscreen and wraparound sunglasses with advanced UV protection and polarized lenses.
If you follow these simple tips, you can look forward to an active, fun and safe summer.