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On Being the MOST Dressed Person at the Party

2010 September 21

sunwise_logoBy Wendy Dew

I recently returned from a week long vacation at a popular lake resort. I packed for my trip knowing that the weather at the lake would be hot and sunny. You’d think that means I took lots of bathing suits, t-shirts, and shorts, right? Wrong! I packed light long sleeve shirts and pants, a hat and lots of sunscreen. I burn easily and let’s face it – I’m not a hot weather “sun-bunny” kind of person.

During my vacation, I saw boats out on the water, visited different marinas on the lake and watched all kinds of people having fun in the sun. One time, I was walking on the floating dock with hundreds of people around me and I noticed that everyone was staring at me. I quickly realized that I was the MOST dressed person at the “party!”

I was wearing light weight long sleeve shirt and pants and had a hat on my head. Everyone else was wearing a swimsuit and little else. I also noticed that almost everyone (not me!) either had a really bad sun burn or a very deep tan. Even the really young kids! I thought to myself, “don’t they know about skin cancer or sun protection?”

Most people are not aware that skin cancer, while largely preventable, is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than one million cases are reported annually. By following some simple steps, you can still enjoy your time in the sun and protect yourself from overexposure to the sun. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends these action steps to help you and your family be “SunWise.”

  • Do Not Burn – Sunburns significantly increase one’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer, especially for children.
  • Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds – UV light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling.
  • Generously Apply Sunscreen – about one ounce to cover all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and provide protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear Protective Clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, when possible.
  • Seek shade when possible and remember that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow and Sand – water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
  • Check the UV Index-the UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent sun overexposure. The UV Index forecast is issued daily by the National Weather Service and EPA. Visit www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html.
  • Get Vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with Vitamin D. Don’t seek the sun.

Checkout the SunWise website if you want a little more information about the recommendations above. So I admit I may have looked a bit “dorky” at the marina…but I’m ok with that because I have my reasons. I will look younger even as I get older because I did not let myself burn or tan throughout my youth. I will be much less likely to get skin cancer and I will not suffer through any painful sunburns during my summer vacations.

Summer is almost over and the seasons are starting to change but sun protection is something you can do to protect your skin all year long. For all you kids and teens out there, do yourself a favor and either cover up or pour the sunscreen on! No need to look like a dork like me if you put on your sunscreen!

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 13 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

12 Responses leave one →
  1. www41WorldUSAcom permalink
    September 21, 2010

    NINE TIPS FOR SKIN CANCER PREVENTION: 1) Dont Burn or get Poisoned by Sun; 2) Avoid Sun Tanning Beds 3) Aways use ample Sunscreen 4) Wear Protective Clothes 5) Seek Shade from Sun’s UV Rays 6) Extra Caution Near Water, Snow & Sand 7) Check the UV Index 8) Plan outdoor activities Wisely and 9) Good Diet, Nutrition get food, Vitamin B, Milk & Vitamin D Daily for body skin absorption

  2. Larry Teller permalink
    September 21, 2010

    Wendy, Too many people, your vacation showed, apparently agree with Billy Crystal’s old takeoff of Fernando Lamas on SNL that looking “maaahvelous” is more important than being healthy. Sad, especially since who really needs tanning and burning to look good. Thanks for your interesting story.

  3. christopher beard permalink
    September 22, 2010

    Thanks for the great story. I really appreciate your input my mother had melanoma and it was a frightening experience .

  4. Iselda permalink
    September 24, 2010

    This article is so true, people don’t realize how dangerous the suns rays are to the skin… some may even find it attractive to get sun burned. It is important to put on sunscreen with a high UV index and be in the shade as much possible… thank you so much for the info…

  5. greg permalink
    September 24, 2010

    good infomation because many people are not aware of what goes on

  6. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    September 26, 2010

    It is very important to be sunwise all year long and especially in summer and early fall. I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s before we knew what we know now about sun protection. Back then doctors and everyone else were saying be out in the sun because its healthy and if you get sunburned just put some ointment on and it will go away in a few days. But today we know that if you get sunburned the surface signs may go away in a few days but your skin has been damaged and you could get skin cancer years from now as a result. So public education about being sunwise is important and the younger you are, the more important it is to know how to be sun smart. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  7. Romaloa permalink
    September 27, 2010

    Can anybody vouch for the UV protection ratings on inexpensive sunglasses? Are $10 sunglasses just as safe as the $100 pair, just a little less stylish? Are the lenses basically the same?
    Is it just the brand and its marketing that make the expensive pairs so much more costly?

  8. Luke@SunWise permalink
    September 28, 2010

    Romaloa – Great question! Inexpensive lenses are just as effective at blocking UV as the expensive ones as long as they say they block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB. They may not be polarized or have other features like the more expensive lenses, but from an eye health perspective they’re just as good.
    Another important feature to look for is coverage. Lenses that wrap around or are very large (think oversized Jackie O. glasses) are more protective.

  9. Ron permalink
    September 30, 2010

    Hey Romaloa and Luke

    Just a few weeks ago I was wondering about the same and found this site on sunglasses for golfers with a lot of good technical information, and, just for the record, nothing to sell. Hope it helps.

  10. Hepburn on Sunglasses permalink
    October 22, 2010

    Though we live in a tropical country, cardigans, sunglasses and hats/umbrellas are a must for me when strolling along the city. I don’t want my hair nor skin to be fried underneath the sun.

  11. fil permalink
    October 22, 2010

    vitamin d supplements are cheap and do the trick

  12. Deloris K. Lara permalink
    April 17, 2011

    hi wendy,

    very nice post. thanks for the tips that you shared. it made me ore prepared a i get ready for summer.

    Deloris K. Lara
    Relay technician

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