THE KILLER IN YOUR LIFE – UV Radiation and what to do about it

14/09/2015

Did you know that you come in contact with a killer every day? Every time you step out of your house, your work, your school…you could be the next victim. Who is this killer, you ask? Well, it’s not who, but a what, and we know it as ultraviolet radiation. But before you barricade yourself inside for the rest of your life, hear me out because you can protect yourself quite easily!

First off, what is ultraviolet radiation?

The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UVR), as well as visible light and heat.

Now pay attention, because the next bit is important! UV radiation and heat from the sun are not the same things. Many people mistake temperature as an indicator of the level of UV radiation. Even when the temperature is not hot, or it’s overcast and cloudy, UVR levels can be high enough to cause sunburn – so temperature is not a good indicator of when you need to protect yourself from the sun’s UV radiation.

The Earth’s atmosphere blocks about 98.7% of the Sun’s UV radiation from penetrating through. The 1.3% that gets through has both positive and negative effects.

UV from the Sun is needed by our bodies to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D helps strengthen bones, muscles and the body’s immune system. In controlled doses, it is also beneficial for some skin conditions and has been scientifically proven to help improve people’s moods!

So it might sound like UV radiation isn’t all that bad. Wrong! While it has its good points, too much UVR causes sunburn, will damage your immune system, prematurely age skin, leaving it wrinkled, spotted and leathery and can damage your vision. Scariest of all, overexposure to UV radiation can be life threatening – or even fatal! UV radiation is the main cause of skin cancer, with over 90% of all skin cancers developing as a result of excessive exposure. It’s the most prominent and universal cancer causing agent in our environment.

That means you need to take some steps to manage your level of exposure, such as:

  • Know when it’s safe to go out. During summer in New Zealand, UV radiation is highest between the hours of 11am and 4pm. Try to avoid staying out in the sun for long periods during this time without using sun protection
  • Slip, slop, slap and wrap. We’ve all heard this one – slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on some sunglasses. UV rays won’t damage your skin through clothing so reducing the amount of your body that’s out in harm’s way is a great way of decreasing risk!
  • Seek shade. Head inside, find a tree to sit under…or a shade sail! As people that eat, sleep and breathe shade systems, we’ve found that shade sails are an especially good way to provide kids with shade as they can be installed over large areas and playgrounds. This lets the kids still play outside as normal – just without the risk of damage from UV radiation! You don’t have to worry about it being dark under a shade sail either because the fabric they’re made from lets sunlight though but not the damage causing UVR!

Summer is just around the corner, so make sure you’re ready for it! Be sunsmart and be prepared – that’s the best way to avoid a skin cancer diagnosis later in life! Contact Shade Systems today to get your free, no-obligations site appraisal and quote!