(ABC4 EXTRA) Although the sun can be a nice way to enjoy being outside, too much exposure to the sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancer or getting sunburnt.

Most types of skin cancer are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays that can damage your skin cells. It’s important to remember that UV rays can also reach you on cloudy days and tend to be the strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight saving time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time).

The UV forecast is a good way to prepare yourself for how strong UV rays will be in your area.

You can find the UV index on websites such as

Best Ways To Protect Skin From Sun Damage

Tip #1: Stay in the shade

Stay under an umbrella, tree, or other shady shelter. Even though you are in the shade, your best bet to protect your skin in the sun is to wear sunscreen or protective clothing when you are outside.

Tip #2: Wear protective clothing and/or a hat and sunglasses

When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and skirts that can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric provide the best protection.

Wearing a hat that has a wide brim all the way around and can shade your face, ears, and the back of your neck offers the most protection.

A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works the best to provide shade from UV rays. Finally, sunglasses can protect your eyes from UV rays as well as the tender skin around the eyes.

Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB (the two basic types of UV rays that reach the earth’s surface) rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses in the U.S. meet this standard.

Tip #3: Applying sunscreen

Applying a thick layer of broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays is important before you go outside or expose your skin to the sun. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend sunscreen for babies who are six months or younger – keep them safe by keeping them out of the sun midday and using protective clothing if they are out in the sun.

Sunscreen protection levels are categorized using a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates how well they block UV rays with higher numbers indicating more protection. It is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 15 SPF or higher.

Check your sunscreen’s expiration date as shelf life diminishes when sunscreen containers have been exposed to hot temperatures. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no longer than three years.

Make sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours if you are staying out in the sun and after sweating, swimming or toweling off.

Water Safety Tips

With temperatures rising across the nation, summertime is typically the perfect time to cool off by participating in water activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children in the United States. More children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause of death besides birth defects.

Some of the most important ways to prevent water injuries or accidents include:

Learn swimming skills: Whether it be you or your children, taking formal swimming lessons can reduce your risk of drowning.

Wear a life jacket: When you are on a boat, paddle board, jet ski, water ski, or any other water-based activity. Pool toys that are filled with air or foam, such as noodles or inner tubes should not be used instead of a life jacket as they are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

Practice and learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): When performed by bystanders during an accident, CPR has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes for drowning victims. The sooner CPR is started, the better chance of improved outcomes.

Use a buddy system and supervise when in or around water: Swimming with a friend, or having a responsible adult watch young children are great ways to supervise water activity and reduce the risk of drowning. It’s important to find water sites that have a lifeguard present when possible.

Avoid alcohol: Avoid drinking alcohol before swimming, boating or engaging in other water activities and do not consume alcohol while supervising children.

Prepare for weather: Strong winds and thunderstorms can be very dangerous when in or around water. Always prepare by knowing local weather conditions and forecasts before boating or swimming. If you are outside watch for dangerous waves, or signs of rip currents by looking for choppy, foamy waves. Free yourself of a current and swim toward shore.

For more helpful information, go to OptumCare.com/UT.

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