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UV Index and Tanning

UV Index – Meaning: It is a measure of how strong is the sunburn and UV radiation at a given place and time.

The UV index guide is there for a reason. It is to help you understand your potential risk to being out in the sun for too long. Some people might not know about the potential risks or how the index scale is rated. There is a scale from 0-10. “O” is the lowest risk and “10” is the highest risk.

Many people do not pay close attention to the sun and the effects of the UV rays. Some people assume that a little bit of sun will not hurt them. Now, of course, a little bit of sun is healthy, and, for the most part, it will not cause major harm. The harm comes when you spend more time in the sun than you should.

SPF Notes:

I speak about the SPF due to living in Florida. We can get a tan just by walking out to get the mail. You can get sunburned and exposed to UV rays just by being outside for 5 minutes, even on a cloudy and rainy day. That is another thing I wish to bring up. Do not think for one second you are not exposed to UV rays when it is rainy and cloudy outside. The rays are still there. They are just hidden behind the clouds.

Some studies prove that you can get more exposure to the UV index or tanning on a cloudy day. Something I wanted you to keep in mind as you read the rest of this blog.

It is similar to people who tan. You have to be mindful of how long you spend in a tanning room or on a bed. Spending a few minutes to get that tan on a bed is not going to hurt, as long as you monitor your time. Spending hours on the bed could cause damage to your skin later(especially if you do it a few times a week).

There is nothing wrong with doing it in moderation. There is an old saying, though: Too much of a good thing can be bad.

Let’s look over the index to give you a better idea of what to expect with exposure.

UV Scale

UV IndexExposure
0 – 2A rating of 0-2 is going to minimal risk. Do you plan on going to the beach today for some sun? You might want to wear a hat for protection and some sunblock(make sure the SPF is at least 30).
3 – 4A rating of 3-4 is still pretty low. Once again you might want to wear a hat and some sunblock(an SPF no lower than 15-30).
5 – 6An index rating of 5-6 brings us to the moderate levels of exposure. You should continue with the hat and sunscreen. You should also opt for shady areas when possible.
7 – 8An index rating of 7-9 brings us to a higher level. Keep going with the tips that have been mentioned. The other thing you need to do is stay inside between 10 Am-4 PM. Those are the hours you are most at risk for exposure.

How Fast Will Exposure Happen?

That depends on how long you are outside and to what level of risk you put yourself at. Here is a small breakdown to give you an idea:

  • Low levels (0 – 4) have at least an hour(sometimes less) before exposure takes over.
  • Medium/moderate levels (4 – 7) you have about 30 minutes or less before you feel the exposure.
  • The higher levels (7 – 9) you have about 20 minutes before risking exposure.
  • The high, high levels (9 and over) you have about 15 minutes or less before things start happening.

Safety Tips To Avoid Feeling The “Burn” And Further Exposure

  • Apply sunscreen. I know that sounds like a chore for some(especially those who go to the beach to see and be seen). However, you risk more exposure if you do not keep applying sunscreen every 15 minutes.
  • The best advice I can give you about tanning beds is to not go. I know that it is not going to stop some. What I do suggest is to buy one of those sunless self-tanning things. That does not mean you cannot stop using sunscreen though You have to use the sunscreen on top of it. Some ask why they should tanning beds. They seem like a good idea(in theory) but users have been known to get more wrinkles and potentially have cancer later. Yes, extensive use of tanning beds can cause cancer. Do not take my word for it. Do some research about it. There are plenty of studies online that indicate how the two relate.
  • Many like to parade around the beach in bikinis and next-to-nothing swimsuits. You might get a lot of compliments, but you will also risk further exposure to the UV index. That goes for the guys too. Try impressing that person special person some other way. Wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting shirts(that way you have room to breathe). Sunglasses are a good to have too.
  • Try to be in the shade as much as possible. Most people go to the beach or do other similar activities for fun(I know). However, it is not going to help your cause when your body becomes overwhelmed by the UV rays. Not shadow, only shade.
  • The UV Index provides a daily forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to the sun. The Index predicts UV intensity levels on a scale of 0 to 10+, where 0 indicates a minimal risk of overexposure and 10+ means a very high risk.

5 steps to be SunSmart

  1. Seek shade.
  2. Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs as well as your body.
  3. Put on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face and neck.
  4. Wear wrap-around sunglasses.
  5. Apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ water resistant sunscreen every 2 hours. Sunscreen should not be used to extend the time you spend in the sun

WMO UV Index Pages

New Zealand