Sun SafetySun Safety

The Importance of Sun Safety

Have you ever thought about how often you should be applying sunscreen or other ways to stay safe in the sun? Here are a few sun safety tips for the whole family this summer.

Why is Sun Safety Important?

Summertime is most often when people begin to think about sun safety, but it should be considered throughout the year. It’s important to think about best practices for sun safety during any type of weather as sun exposure can lead to early skin aging, sunburns, skin cancer, eye damage, and other risks of overexposure to the sun.

What Sun Safety Measures Should Be Applied

Applying sunscreen is one of the most effective sun safety measures that can be applied to protect yourself and your family from the risks of the sun. The EPA recommends applying sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside to any skin that will be exposed to the sun.


The FDA recommends reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating or spending time in and out of the water. Keep in mind when drying off after a swim that sunscreen will usually rub off. If you decide to stay out in the sun a bit longer, it is recommended to reapply another layer to be safe.


Choosing the Right Sunscreen

Selecting the right sunscreen is also important to sun safety. The FDA is continuously regulating sunscreens to ensure they meet safety and effectiveness standards.


On September 24, 2021, the FDA proposed new requirements for sunscreens to improve the quality and safety of the sunscreen being produced and made for sale to the public.


When choosing a sunscreen, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection as this will protect against UVA and UVB rays.
    • UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers. While UVA rays contribute to skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. The SPF is the level of protection the sunscreen will have against UVB rays.
    • SPF 30 filters out about 97% of UVB rays
    • SPF 50 filters out about 98% of UVB rays
    • SPF 100 filters out about 99% of UVB rays
  • Water-resistant does not mean waterproof. If you choose a sunscreen that advertises water-resistant, the label should state how long the product will last until it needs to be reapplied. Typically, most sunscreens will be either every 40 or 80 minutes.


What Can You do to Stay Sun Safe?

Besides sunscreen, other important sun safety practices to consider for yourself and your family when in the sun are:

  • Stay Covered – wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun. A few suggestions would be wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeve shirts, pants, or UPF clothing.
  • Wear Sunglasses – when in the sun for extended periods, it is highly recommended to wear sunglasses with a higher UV protection rating to reduce eye damage.
    • Sunglasses labeled UV 400 will provide close to 100% protection from harmful rays. The higher the rating, the more protection the sunglasses will provide against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Stay in the Shade – when spending time in the sun for an afternoon swim or other outdoor activities, do your best to limit your direct exposure to the sun.
    • Staying in covered areas is especially recommended between the hours of 10am and 4pm when the UV rays are strongest. If you’re spending the day at the pool, think about bringing an umbrella along for some guaranteed coverage.
  • Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds – UV light from tanning beds and the sun can lead to skin cancer and early signs of aging. While that summer glow from a nice tan is tempting, ensure that you are taking the necessary steps to keep your skin protected and healthy.


Protecting yourself and your family from the sun is extremely important throughout the year, but especially in the summertime when UV rays are the strongest. By implementing these sun safety practices, you can protect yourself and your family while also being a good role model to your family and others around you, reducing your chances of developing sunburns, skin cancer, or other sun damage.


At our swimming programs, we don’t just aim to keep you and your family safe in the water, we also strive to teach the value of practicing sun safety. No one wants a fun day at the pool to be ruined by an uncomfortable sunburn. Join us at the Y and learn what else you can do to stay sun safe.

YMCA of Greater Cincinnati