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The Shade Is Not Enough

2013 July 2

By Lina Younes

Millions of people in the U.S. head to the beach for some relaxation and fun activities every summer. As many of you may be planning your trip, I wanted to share my family’s recent experience. Hopefully you will not repeat our mistakes.
A couple of weeks ago, my family and I enjoyed some days at the beach. The setting was perfect. The turquoise waters, cloudless sky, nearly deserted beach, and warm sea breeze were all the key elements for a perfect vacation. I had packed plenty of sunscreen and made sure that everyone had sunglasses to protect themselves from the powerful sun rays. However, not all of us decided to be SunWise  during our trip.

While I was acting like the sunscreen police making sure that everyone applied sunscreen regularly especially after they came got out of the water, my husband had decided that “he didn’t need it.” “I don’t use sunscreen, I’ll just stay in the shade.” “OK,” I thought, “let’s wait and see.”

So after a whole day at the beach, it was obvious that the ultraviolet rays had been relentless. My husband had a serious sunburn! Even he was surprised by the results. He lamented: “This has never happened to me. It must be the depletion of the ozone layer!”  Well, I wasn’t sure about the status of the ozone layer, but I did check the UV Index  later that day and realized that it was in the “extreme” category. Yikes! We should have known better.

So, my piece of advice,  next time you go to the beach or decide to spend some time outdoors, don’t let those powerful UV rays spoil your day.

  • Use plenty of sunscreen with SPF 15 at the minimum. Apply it generously and reapply it often.
  • Use protective clothing like a long-sleeved shirt and wide-brimmed hat, when possible.
  • Use sunglasses.
  • Seek the shade and if possible avoid the sun’s UV rays between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon when the sun is the strongest.
  • Check the UV Index before you go outdoors to prevent overexposure.

And another piece of advice, don’t be fooled when it’s cloudy. Consider using all our sun safety tips because staying under the shade is not enough.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 2, 2013

    Many person think that when it is cloudy they would not get a sunburn. The direct rays of the sun make you warm, it is the ultraviolet radiation that hurts, and that goes thru the clouds. Since you don’t feel the light rays you are fooled and then can get a nasty burn. Use a strongsunblock UVA & UVB

  2. Lina-EPA permalink
    July 2, 2013

    Yes, that is very true! When its cloudy many people think that the sun rays will not burn! Those powerful UV are always present during the daytime! Rain or shine. Winter or summer!

    Thanks for your comments,

  3. Alexander permalink
    July 3, 2013

    Thanks for good advices.

  4. Lina-EPA permalink
    July 3, 2013

    You’re welcome. Remember to be Sunwise:


  5. electra27 permalink
    July 5, 2013

    My brother was a lifeguard when he was young, then in his sixties was diagnosed with ocular melanoma. The docotor said it had to do with his job as a lifeguard. Both of us have blue eyes. I wear transitional lenses these days to reduce risk.

  6. Lina-EPA permalink
    July 8, 2013

    Sorry to hear about your brother, but there is no doubt that UV rays can have an adverse impact. When we are young we think we are invincible, but that is not true, unfortunately.

    Now, I make sure that I wear sunglasses regularly



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