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What is the UV Index?

Read up on the UV index to learn what it means and how you can protect yourself
As we get into the summer months, you'll often hear a forecast for the "UV Index". Do you know what it means? It's likely you know something about it, but if you want to know more, here ya go...

The UV index is a scale used to forecast the expected risk of overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun. Ozone depletion, as well as seasonal and weather variations, cause different amounts of UV radiation to reach the Earth at any given time. Taking these factors into account, the UV Index predicts the level of solar UV radiation and  indicates the risk of overexposure on a scale from 0 (low) to 11 or more (extremely high).  

Overexposure to harmful UV radiation can affect human health, increasing the risk for skin cancer, premature skin aging and other skin damage, eye damage, and suppress the immune system. Click here to read up more on the health effects.

Often this time of year, the UV index will be high due to the high sun angle. And in fact, thats the plan for the next few days. The UV index is high Thursday-Saturday, and may nudge back just a bit for Sunday.

You can stay safe by following these simple rules depending on the UV forecast:

A UV Index reading of 0 to 2 means low danger from the sun's UV rays for the average person.
 
  • Wear sunglasses on bright days.
  • If you burn easily, cover up and use broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen.
  • Watch out for bright surfaces, like sand, water and snow, which reflect UV and increase exposure.

A UV Index reading of 3 to 5 means moderate risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.

  • Stay in shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
  • If outdoors, wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Generously apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. 
  • Watch out for bright surfaces, like sand, water and snow, which reflect UV and increase exposure.

A UV Index reading of 6 to 7 means high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Protection against skin and eye damage is needed.

  • Reduce time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • If outdoors, seek shade and wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Generously apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. 
  • Watch out for bright surfaces, like sand, water and snow, which reflect UV and increase exposure.

A UV Index reading of 8 to 10 means very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Take extra precautions because unprotected skin and eyes will be damaged and can burn quickly.

  • Minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • If outdoors, seek shade and wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Generously apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. 
  • Watch out for bright surfaces, like sand, water and snow, which reflect UV and increase exposure.

A UV Index reading of 11 or more means extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Take all precautions because unprotected skin and eyes can burn in minutes. 

  • Try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • If outdoors, seek shade and wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Generously apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Watch out for bright surfaces, like sand, water and snow, which reflect UV and increase exposure.



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