Sun Safety

1.     Facts

·        Sources of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) are the sun and UVR-emitting devices, e.g., tanning beds. UVR causes skin cancer and other forms of skin damage (e.g., wrinkling and photoaging of the skin) and causes harm to the eyes

·        Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada, and incidence rates for melanoma, the most fatal form of the disease, continue to increase. Skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers

·        While UVR that is harmful to the skin is primarily present in the sun’s rays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September in Canada, UVR that is harmful to the eyes is present in the sun’s rays all year round and throughout the day. In both cases, UVR can be harmful, even when it’s cloudy

2.     Recommended Protection

Enjoy the sun safely: Protect your skin, protect your eyes

Protect your skin

·        When the UV Index is 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. In general, the UV Index in Canada can be 3 or higher from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September, even when it’s cloudy

o   Seek shade or bring your own (e.g., an umbrella)

o   Wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat that cover as much skin as possible, as appropriate to the activity and weather

o   Use sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” and “water-resistant” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, on skin not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply when required

·        Don’t use UV tanning equipment or deliberately try to get a suntan, and avoid getting

a sunburn

Protect your eyes

·        Wear sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses

·        Wear a wide-brimmed hat for added eye protection

3.     Additional Recommended Protection

·        Check the daily forecast for the UV Index and protect your skin accordingly

·        Between April and September, whenever possible, plan outdoor activities for before 11 a.m. or after 3 pm

·        Use sources of vitamin D that are safer than UVR exposure, e.g., dietary sources, including fortified foods, and vitamin D supplements. Intentional UVR exposure to meet vitamin D requirements is not recommended


4.     Protection Tips


·        Good-quality shade includes dense vegetation and covered structures that offer shade from the side, and not just overhead, to protect against scattered UVR

·        As a general guide, wider and denser sources of shade provide increased SPF

·        Cloth sources of shade, such as canopies and umbrellas, should have tightly woven fabric

·        Additional personal protection (clothes, sunglasses and sunscreen) is recommended even when in the shade to protect against scattered UVR, especially on high UV Index days


·        Hats should shade the head, face, ears and back of the neck with a wide brim

·        In general, clothing provides better protection than sunscreen

·        Tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing is recommended


·        Sunscreen should be used on exposed skin not covered by protective clothing. Consider using sunscreen for the lips (e.g., sunscreen lip balm), as well

·        Use a generous amount of sunscreen (e.g., the average adult requires approximately two to three tablespoons of lotion-formulated sunscreen to cover the whole body, and a teaspoon to cover the face and neck)

·        Reapply after swimming, strenuous exercise or towelling off

·        Use sunscreen that says on the label:

    • “Broad spectrum”
    • “SPF 30” or higher
    • “Water resistant”

·        Sunscreen comes in a variety of formulations. Find one that suits you best and apply it properly with thorough coverage. Sunscreen formulations that you find easier to apply thoroughly will be more effective

Eye Protection

·        Because UVR that is harmful to the eyes is present in the sun’s rays all year round and throughout the day, eye protection may be required even when skin protection is not

·        Eye protection is required around highly reflective environments, such as snow, sand and water

·        The best UV protection for eyes is offered by close-fitting wraparound sunglasses

·        Look for sunglasses or prescription lenses with full UVA and UVB protection. Examples of appropriate labels are “UV400” or “100% UV protection.”

·        Contact lenses, even those with UV protection, do not provide full coverage for the eye and the skin around the eye