As a loss prevention engineer driving is a major part of my job. I have the opportunity to travel to job sites throughout Northern California. During my first summer on the job, and in the car, I learned the hard way the importance of sun protection.
I was driving to visit several of our policyholders the first triple digit heat day of the season. I didn’t think I needed sunscreen. My plan was to drive to each workplace, get out of the car, and quickly run inside. My plan backfired. Although I spent most of my day indoors and in the car, my left arm and left side of my face got severely sunburned. I didn’t realize it was happening until it was too late. The next few days were painful and I had to travel in the sweltering heat wearing long sleeved shirts to avoid further injury. With just one side of my face burned, I looked a little funny too.
Over the years, dermatologists have recognized that patients in the U.S. tend to have more sun damage on the left side of their faces than on the right. Research points to the ultraviolet rays that penetrate our car windows. The windshield is designed to block ultraviolet rays, side and rear windows are not.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types.
More than 5.4 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year. Regardless of skin tone we’re all susceptible.
Over exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. It usually takes years of over exposure to the sun’s rays to develop skin cancer. Skin cancer can appear in many shapes and sizes.
Before you head out to work in the great outdoors or travel in the warm sunshine, know how to protect yourself from sun damage.
Safe sunscreen tips:
- Wear sunscreen every day.
- Choose a broad-spectrum product, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) between 15 and 50.
- Higher SPFs lead to a false sense of security, leading people to believe they can be exposed for longer periods of time.
- Re-apply at least every two hours and after exposure to water or sweating.
Physical sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) offers immediate protection, as the minerals form a barrier on the skin. Chemical sunscreen (active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octisalate) reflects UV light away from the skin and requires waiting a minimum of 20 minutes to absorb into the skin before sun exposure.
In addition to using sunscreen every day, you can:
- Wear protective clothing such as a light color, long-sleeved shirt, a wide brim hat, and sunglasses.
- Apply a protective film to your car windows.
- Seek shade whenever possible especially when the sun’s rays are at its strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
By following these sun safety tips you can minimize the harmful effects of excessive UV radiation, reduce the risk of skin cancer, and help your team practice safe sun.