Health and Family Services Cabinet
Enjoy the Summer Sun Safely; Exposure to UV Rays Can Be Dangerous
Note to editors/producers: This is one of a series of releases being issued as part of a joint Fourth of July and summer safety campaign by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Kentucky State Police and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The campaign addresses fireworks safety, drowning prevention, boating safety, food safety, sunburn/skin cancer prevention and West Nile Virus information. Please visit our Summer Safety Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/summerSafety08.htm for all campaign releases and to download audio/video PSAs and other resources.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 27, 2008) – Warm temperatures and extra hours of sunlight entice many to spend more time outdoors in the summer, dramatically increasing exposure to harmful rays that can cause skin damage and are linked to skin cancer.
This summer, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) wants all Kentuckians to protect themselves and their loved ones, particularly young children, from harmful sun exposure.
“The sun can be extremely damaging to a person’s health, resulting in painful burns, sun damage and in some cases, skin cancer,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), part of CHFS. “It’s extremely important to protect yourself. Even more important is for parents to properly supervise their children and prevent them from experiencing painful and sometimes life-threatening burns.”
According to DPH, some sunlight - about 15 minutes twice a week - is necessary for people to make and use vitamin D. However, exposure in excess of this can be dangerous.
Twenty-seven Kentuckians were hospitalized due to severe sunburns in 2007, some resulting in dangerous second- and third-degree burns, according to the state Office of Health Policy. Of those, six patients were children ranging in age from younger than 1 to 12 years old.
Overexposure to sunlight can lead to extreme pain and skin injury, particularly for young children. The cabinet’s summer safety campaign stresses the importance of adults supervising and taking adequate precautions on behalf of children to protect them from serious sunburn.
“This is not only a public health issue, but it’s also an issue of our ability and willingness to protect and ensure the safety and welfare of our children,” Hacker said.
In addition to immediate pain, overexposure to sunlight, sun damage and burns can heighten the risk for developing skin cancer. According to the Kentucky Cancer Registry, the incidence rate of invasive skin cancer in Kentucky was nearly 22 out of every 100,000 people from 2001 to 2005. The mortality rate for the same period was 4.39 per 100,000 people.
Some tips for avoiding sunburn or side effects linked to sun exposure are:
− Avoid sunbathing.
− Avoid tanning parlors.
− Wear a hat that shields your face from the sun.
− Limit your sun exposure. The sun is hottest and strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
− Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or greater.
− Wear sunglasses that are UV rated.
− Choose cosmetics, moisturizing creams and lotions that contain sunscreen.
− Protect your lips with products that have a sun protection factor of 15 or greater.