Being safe in the sun

Nobody wants to stay inside when the sun’s shining. So when you’re outside, using a little SunSense can protect you and your family from getting too much sun.

If you work outdoors, you may be exposed to the sun for even longer periods, so be sure to follow these sun safety tips too.

Check the UV Index daily

Before going outside, check the weather forecast for the daily UV Index. On days when the UV Index reaches 3 (moderate) or more, you need to be extra careful to protect your skin. Try to reduce your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – when the sun’s rays are at their strongest – or any time of the day when the UV Index is 3 or more. In Canada between April and September, the UV Index can be 3 or more from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., even when it’s cloudy.

Seek shade

If your shadow is shorter than you, it’s time to find some shade. Choose to sit under a tree at the park or under an awning on a restaurant patio. If you can’t find shade, create your own. Take along an umbrella – that way you can have shade wherever you need it. If you can see the sky from your shady spot, you still need to cover up with clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. UV rays can reach you in the shade by reflecting off surrounding surfaces.

Cover up

One of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up.

  •  Cover up as much of your skin as you can with tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing. Clothes provide better protection than sunscreen.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim that covers your head, face, ears and neck. Hats like baseball caps won’t give you enough protection. Many skin cancers happen on the face and neck. These areas need extra protection.
  • Put sunscreen on your ears, chin and neck even when you’re wearing a hat.

Wear your sunglasses

Sunglasses can help prevent damage to your eyes by blocking a large percentage of UV rays. Keep your shades on and make sure your children wear them too. Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to be effective, but make sure you choose close-fitting ones with UVA and UVB protection in a wraparound style. The label might have UV 400 or 100% UV protection on it.

Use sunscreen properly

Sunscreen absorbs UV rays and prevents them from penetrating the skin. Sunscreens are rated by the strength of their SPF. The SPF tells you the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s UVB rays. SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB rays. Sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays.

  • Use an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Make sure the sunscreen is labelled broad-spectrum (offers both UVA and UVB protection).
  • If you’re in the water, make sure your sunscreen is water-resistant.
How to apply sunscreen
  •  Apply a generous amount of sunscreen. Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck, any bald spots, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet. The average adult needs about 2 or 3 tablespoons of sunscreen to cover their body and a teaspoon to cover their face and neck.

  • Put sunscreen on first, before any makeup or insect repellent. Follow the directions on the bottle to apply.
  • If you forget to put it on before going outside, it’s not too late! Put it on as soon as you can and reapply according to the directions, especially after swimming or sweating.
  • Use a lip balm with SPF and reapply when needed. Your lips need protection too.
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days and during the winter months.
  • Try different sunscreens until you find the one you like. Talk to your pharmacist if you need help in choosing a sunscreen.

Don’t use indoor tanning beds

There’s no safe way to get a tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Don’t use indoor tanning beds or sun lamps.

Know the signs of skin cancer

Most skin cancers can be cured if they’re caught early enough.


Check your skin regularly.