What a beautiful Summer it’s turning out to be! July’s fireworks have rolled over into beach worthy days and hot Summer nights! Now more than ever we’re leaving the house for children’s camps, beaches and pools, and playgrounds. Ever present with such beautiful days is a temptation to avoid the basics while getting out there, and forgetting those little things might get you burned!

Without proper sun protection, people can begin to burn within 15 minutes of being outside. What, however, is ‘proper’ sun protection, and what do those fancy SPF numbers on the bottle mean? Most important, what can be done if there’s an “Oops” in the sun?

SPF actually means something!!!! It stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the numbers to guide you range from 2 to somewhere around 50. Those numbers represent an ideal time factor of protection. SPF 2 through 15 work mathematically in this way. Say it takes you 15 minutes to burn without a protective sunscreen. An SPF rating of 4 means that you could be in that same sun for four times that 15 minutes, or one hour, before starting to burn. This works all the way through SPF 15, at which point the extra protective time falls off dramatically.

That reads great, doesn’t it? So simple to work out in your head how safe you are…but there are a lot of factors that alter that number and give you less protection. For maximum effectiveness, sunscreen should be put on 20 minutes before going outside in the sun. It also needs to be applied evenly over the whole body, reapplied regularly or when you get wet (like the pool or lake), and that the numbers are only accurate if the amount of time needed in the sun before burning begins is a constant, which is not true at this time of year!

So add sun protection early and often, and know what to do if you or someone you love starts getting a burn. A helpful sheet on sunburn can be found by clicking here.

Remember to watch your families, particularly the very young and very old, for signs of sunburn or sun poisoning, and take the proper safety steps before and after to keep yourselves safe!