Important steps to practice sun safety this summer: With summer underway, Dr. Robin Williams, Ontario’s Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health, is reminding people to protect themselves and their families from the sun while enjoying time outdoors.
Overexposure to the sun can lead to painful sunburns and increase the risk of developing skin cancer from harmful UV rays. It can also contribute to heat-related illness such as heat stroke and exhaustion, which can result in headaches, cramping, vomiting and fainting.
It is important to help protect those most vulnerable to the heat and sunburns, especially infants less than one year of age, children and the elderly. Children have the highest amount of sun exposure of any age group and are more sensitive to UV rays.
Steps that people can take to protect themselves and loved ones from harmful sun exposure include:
- Using sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher — and reapplying at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating a lot, even on cloudy days.
- Limiting time spent in the sun, especially between 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest.
- Wearing the right gear, including a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and light clothing to cover the skin.
- Staying in the shade or indoors, especially during heat alerts; find air-conditioned spaces, including malls, libraries and specially designated community facilities.
- Drinking a lot of water, even before you feel thirsty.
- About 30,000 Ontarians are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Skin cancer rates have been rising in youth and young adults in Ontario.
- In Ontario, the overall economic burden of skin cancer was more than $344 million in 2011 in direct and indirect costs.
- Ontario is also protecting young people from skin cancer through a recent law that bans the use of tanning beds by youth under the age of 18.