Jennifer’s Journal: Staying safe in the summer sun

Now that the weather has warmed up, many of us are busy with outdoor activities.

Remember spending time in the sun increases our risk for skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the United States.

More than 9,000 people die from skin cancer each year. Most of these deaths are from a malignant melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

Here are some steps to help protect you and your family:

—Stay out of the sun when its rays are most damaging, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must be outside during these times, find shade and use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 rating. Don’t forget, you can get sunburn even on a cloudy day.

— Read the label on your sunscreen. This will tell you when to re-apply, whether it is waterproof and the expiration date.

— Be sure to wear sunglasses and protective clothing. Sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection will greatly reduce sun exposure that can lead to cataracts and other eye damage.

—Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and a wide-brimmed hat, all made from a tightly woven fabric, while in the sun. A baseball cap does not provide sun protection to vulnerable places on your ears, face or neck.

— Check your skin monthly for abnormal or changing areas, especially moles. Have a doctor examine any of these changes.

— People with fair or light skin and those who work outside all day are at greater risk for skin cancer. Whether you’re working or playing outdoors, be aware of skin cancer risks and protect your family from the harmful effects of sun exposure.

For more suggestions to lower your risk, visit http://ces.ca.uky.edu/clark/

Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension Agent for family and consumer sciences.