Sun Safety: What to Do Before, During & After Sun Exposure

Sun Safety SunscreenThe American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and that more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed yearly, more than all other cancer types combined.

Not only are most skin cancers preventable, the sun damages more than just the skin. Fortunately, many options exist for enjoying the sun and being protected from its harmful rays. Apply these tips to help you enjoy the sun, be safe from harmful UV rays, and recover from sun damage.

Before Sun Exposure

  • Avoid Sunburn – Sunburn and tanning are both just short-term effects of sun damage. Long-term effects include premature skin aging, loss of skin elasticity, dark patches, pre-cancer and cancer. Avoid sunburn and tanning whenever possible.
  • Apply Sunscreen - While sunscreen does provide protection from the sun, it does not provide 100% protection against UV rays. To get the full benefit of sunscreen, first read labels before buying to ensure choosing the best protection possible. Second, understand what the numbers on the bottle mean. Third, note the expiration date on the sunscreen and act accordingly. Finally, apply sunscreen liberally. Approximately a palmful provides adequate protection, and follow product directions for reapplication.
  • Check Medications - Many medications increase sun sensitivity and burning rate. A doctor or pharmacist can tell you if your medication makes you more susceptible to sun damage, but know that antibiotics and acne medications are common culprits.

During Sun Exposure

  • Wear Protective Clothing – Cover as much skin as possible, especially the longer you are in the sun. Some clothing now comes with sun protection factor, but any clothing you can’t see the sun through blocks at least some of the harmful rays. There are even products you can buy that are used in washing machines to add UV protection to clothing.
  • Wear a Hat - Hats with 2-3” brims all the way around provide sun protection to the head and neck. While most people wear either a baseball cap or a straw hat, keep their limitations in mind. A baseball cap, for instance, does not protect the neck and ears, and straw hats tend to have loose weaves that let sunlight through to skin.
  • Wear Sunglasses - Sunglasses that block UV rays not only protect eyes from sun damage, they also protect areas around the eyes. Ideal sunglasses should block 99-100% of UV rays. Dark sunglasses aren’t naturally better because the sun protection comes from an invisible coating applied to lenses, and large-framed and wrap-around sunglasses provide the most comprehensive protection. Finally, realize that a sunglasses price doesn’t predict its ability to protect eyes. In fact, a wide range of sunglasses in various prices and features all protect eyes from the sun. Simply make sure sunglasses are labeled as blocking 99-100% of UV rays.
  • Seek Shade - When the sun’s rays are at their strongest, no amount of sunscreen or clothing provides total protection against sun damage. At times, the best protection is seeking shade. Remember that when you can’t see your shadow, the sun is at its strongest.

Sunburn Care

Sometimes, even though we do our best to prevent sunburn something gets missed or forgotten. The result: painful sunburn. When this happens, take action to alleviate the discomfort and aid healing. Common methods include taking a cool bath, applying aloe vera gel, taking anti-inflammatory medication and applying moisturizing cream. If sunburn is severe enough for blisters to develop, see your doctor.

Taking the proper precautions goes a long way in preventing sunburn as well as its short and long-term effects. The post “Sun Safety: Special Considerations & Additional Thoughts” will bring this discussion of sun safety full circle by discussing some unique situations and elements that need considered in order to truly be safe in the sun.

Wearing a Face Shield

Elvex BrushGuard w/27dB NRR Equalizer Earmuffs and Face Shield

Elvex BrushGuard w/27dB NRR Equalizer Earmuffs and Face Shield

Face shields are a requirement in many professions and for a variety of tasks in the workplace. OSHA requires the use of face shields when workers are exposed to flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Specific jobs requiring the use of face shields include welders, some medical workers, industrial painters and workers in chemical plants.

While not all jobs and tasks require a face shield, they are often simply a good idea. The following 5 conditions warrant consideration for the use of face shields.

  1. Flying fragments. This includes dust and other material that can fly into eyes such as when using power tools to cut, shape or remove materials. Individuals using chainsaws should also use face shields like the Evlex BrushGuard with Equalizer Earmuffs and Face Shield or the Elvex ProGuard Loggers Safety Cap.
  2. Chance of Splashing. Those handling acids, corrosives, chemical adherents or strippers and those working with blood and other body fluids should wear face shields. Shields such as the Elvex Clear Hardcoated Lexan Face Shield can help protect against chemical splashes.
  3. Heat. Anyone doing furnace maintenance, engaging in welding or handling any molten substance should use a face shield. Pyramex offers several helmets providing comprehensive face and head protection for these situations. (See How to Choose a Welding Helmet and Basic Welding Safety for more details related to this topic.)
  4. Glare. While many circumstances warrant the need for glare reduction, sports probably provides one of the best examples. For example, face shields worn on football helmets not only help reduce glare, shields such as the Bangerz ProVU Smoke Flexible Football Eyeshield can also help protect against a variety of other factors.
  5. Impact. Face shields can provide additional protection against impact. However, OSHA does not recommend that workers rely on them solely for this purpose. Instead, wearing impact safety eyewear below the shield is a good idea to ensure protection against impact hazards.

In addition to the above, there are a number of considerations to take into account when deciding on the type of face shield to use as well as the features to include. Consider the following 5 options when choosing a face shield.

  1. Side shields on face shields provide increased protection. Those working with heat should definitely use side shields, but really any task where material could be flying around warrants using side shields. Many face shields come with protection for the sides of the face.
  2. Goggle styles such as the Jackson MonoShield with Goggles provide another option for face protection for those working in clean rooms, public utilities, metal processing, foundries, mining, construction and more.
  3. Headgear with face shields usually comes in adjustable styles. Hard hat designs such as the Elvex UltiMate Standard Ratchet Headgear for Universal Face Shields and the Elvex UltiMate Heavy Duty Ratchet Headgear for Universal Face Shields provide head and face protection. Hard hat designs can come with shields that are either plastic or wire-screen and lift-front or removable. Face shields with headgear typically include straps that are adjustable to fit an individual user, allowing face shields to be easily shared between individuals.
  4. Windows are available in removable or lift-front design. Removable windows allow for easy replacement while lift-front styles can be lowered and raised easily as the task requires.
  5. Window material comes in plastic or wire-screen models. Plastic protects against light impact and is available in clear or filtered. Wire-screen windows may include a glass or plastic insert and can protect against moderate impact, but they are not recommended for work involving chemical or liquid hazards.

For many tasks, a face shield is an absolute must. And while face shields provide a great deal of protection for the face with regard to elements such as heat, chemical splash and dust, shields DO NOT provide complete protection against impact hazards. For this reason, OSHA recommends wearing safety glasses below face shields for comprehensive impact protection.

Spring Break Sunglasses: Protect Your Eyes and Look Good at the Same Time

Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ Sunglasses with Polished White Frame and Black Iridium Lens

Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ Sunglasses with Polished White Frame and Black Iridium Lens

Spring is almost here, and for many people that means time to make plans for a Spring Break trip. The most popular trip destinations are those that are warm and sunny, yet destinations involving mountains and skiing are appealing to many people as well. Regardless of the destination, chances are good that Spring Break will involve being outside as much as possible and possibly going on a long road trip. For these reasons, one essential activity before going on that vacation is to make sure your eyes are not only well protected by quality sunglasses but that you look good wearing them too.

Most people don’t realize we are exposed to ultraviolet rays, of which sunlight is the main source, not just on sunny days but also on overcast days as well. Glare and reflection give added trouble, so wearing quality sunglasses is important when spending time on snow and in or on the water and also when driving. Really, benefit is gained by wearing quality sunglasses during pretty much any outdoor activity.

So what qualifies as quality sunglasses? Can the same sunglasses that provide ultimate eye protection against UV rays also be fashionable? The following are 5 tips for choosing quality sunglasses for your Spring Break trip that also look great on you.

  1. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV light. Fashionable options are widely available in a variety of quality brands including Oakley, Revo, Tapout , Gatorz. These glasses not only provide the ultimate in sun protection, but they come in the most up-to-date fashions as well.
  2. Consider wraparound sunglasses that provide additional protection by preventing harmful UV rays from entering around the frame. Options abound in wraparound sunglasses coming from a variety of makers such as Bangerz, Gatorz and Bobster.
  3. Choose polarized lenses if possible. Polarized lenses provide comprehensive eye protection and increase visibility. They are especially helpful when glare is a problem, such as when driving or spending time on or near water.
  4. Take time to choose the right lens tint. Black? Yellow? Orange? Rose? Brown? Blue? Not sure what lens tint will suit your needs? Check out this Sport Sunglasses Lens Tint Guide from the eye experts at All About Vision. Then, check out the variety of choices offered in a variety of price ranges by Oakley, Revo, Tapout and Gatorz and others.
  5. Consider options for variable conditions. Many situations, such as snow skiing and golf, present a variety of eye-protection and visibility needs. So, having sunglasses that come with interchangeable lenses can be a great choice. Oakley offers a variety of fashion sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, including the Fast Jacket, Fast Jacket XL, Jawbone, and Split Jacket. These sunglasses that come with more than one lens type that can be switched out based on the conditions. (See the article Experts Guide to Skiing Sunglasses Lens Tint to learn when to wear what lens tint when snow skiing.)

Sunglass options also exist for special needs including over-prescription sunglasses, ballistic sunglasses that meet military standards, safety sunglasses that are impact resistant, and bifocal sunglasses. With all the options available, no excuse exists for not wearing proper eyewear that protects against sun damage.

Whatever lens tint or frame style you choose, always make quality a priority when choosing a pair of sunglasses. While available in abundance, Cheap Sunglasses Actually End Up Costing You More in the Long Run. Spending more on quality sunglasses such as those referred to throughout this article will contribute greatly to your eye health over your lifetime.