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Understanding the UV Index and How to Stay Safe in the Sun

How to Stay Safe in the Sun

Understanding the UV Index and How to Stay Safe in the Sun

 

I was chatting with FCS rep Keoni Watson sometime ago, and he mentioned that the UV index was going to be super high on that weekend—pushing as high as 11. That sounded pretty gnarly to me, but I realized that I didn’t really know what the UV index meant, or where it even came from, so I decided to do some research. I found an online guideline from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and discovered some really interesting information. 

As it turns out, the UV index was created in 1994 by the EPA and the National Weather Service, as a guideline to help people plan outdoor activities but avoid overexposure to UV radiation, which can cause a variety of health issues (including sunburn, cataracts, and skin cancers such as melanoma). The UV index was then updated in 2004 to serve as a more comprehensive, global UV index that provides daily guidance for UV radiation in different locations. The number provided on the UV index for any given day is projected for the time of day with the most radiation (approximately noon), but users should understand that the actual amount of UV radiation rises and falls throughout the day.

The updated global UV index ranges include low (1-2), moderate (3-5), high (6-7), very high (8-10), and extreme (11+). These ranges are meant to help people plan their days and take the appropriate steps to protect themselves from solar radiation when enjoying outdoor activities. This might include sunscreen, clothing specifically designed to block UV rays, sunglasses, and even avoiding direct sunlight. It is important to understand that even on days with a low UV index, it is still possible to suffer damage and potential health problems from overexposure to the sun, especially for people with light or sensitive skin.

That being said, general suggestions for the different ranges include:

Low – Use sunglasses on bright days, and use sunscreen if you have sensitive ski