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What is the UV Index?

Posted on July 20, 2020 in Blog

thermometerWe know ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause serious health problems including sunburn, premature aging of skin, skin cancer, cataracts and other eye problems, and more. But, did you know there’s a way to know how just how cautious you need to be in the sun’s rays?

The UV Index is an official forecast from the National Weather Service that estimates how much ultraviolet radiation will reach the Earth’s surface for most ZIP codes across the U.S. Using this information, you can plan ahead for outdoor events and prepare for your level of sun exposure.

The National Weather Service indicates the risk of overexposure to the sun’s UV rays on a scale from 0 (low) to 11+ (extreme). The World Health Organization uses a system of colors that correspond to the UV level.

UV Index Values

Color

Amount of risk

0-2

Green

Low. Low danger from unprotected sun exposure. But if you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

3-5

Yellow

Moderate. A moderate risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses and a hat if you will be outside. Stay in shade around midday. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every two hours.

6-7

Orange

High. A high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses and a hat if you will be outside. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every two hours. Reduce the time you spend in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

8-10

Red

Very High. A very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Wear protective clothing, sunglasses and a hat if you will be outside. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every two hours. Seek shade outdoors. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

11+

Purple

Extreme. An extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Follow all of the above suggestions to protect yourself from the sun.

For many people, a small amount of exposure to sunlight is fine, but too much can be dangerous. Keep track of the UV Index and protect your skin based on the recommendations above. Take extra care around sand, water and snow because they reflect UV rays and give you more exposure.

Learn the symptoms of heat-related illnesses – the CDC has a symptom guide for skin rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Severe sunburn or heat-related illnesses may require emergency treatment, and heat stroke is a medical emergency – call 911. For other heat-related conditions or sun-related skin changes that might be cancerous, contact your physician.

Read more summer safety tips from Fort Sanders Regional.