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Heat and Sun Safety

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is the most serious environmental risk factor for both skin cancer and lip cancer.

Unprotected skin can be harmed by UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effects of sun exposure. Serious sunburns, especially during childhood and adolescence, can increase the chances of developing malignant melanoma, one of the most serious forms of skin cancer and the one that causes most skin cancer-related deaths.

Summer also brings prolonged high temperatures that can cause illness and even death. The elderly, children, and people with certain medical conditions such as heart disease are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.

All Mississippians can protect themselves against these dangers:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday when UV rays are strongest and do the most damage. Avoid direct exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and seek shade under an umbrella or tree.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin. Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Relax and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Get a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck. UV rays can reach anyone on cloudy and hazy days as well as bright and sunny days
  • Use sunscreen rated SPF-30 or higher that's "full spectrum" — with both UVA and UVB protection. Sunscreens come in a variety of forms, including lotions, gels, and sprays. Choose the one that works best for you.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible. Sunglasses protect both the eyes and tender skin around the eyes from sun exposure.
  • Find out more about protecting yourself from the dangers of extreme heat »

Older Mississippians should take special precautions:

  • Keep cool by staying indoors or under shade.
  • Get out to air-conditioned public spaces if you don't have air conditioning at home.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the day or any time the temperature is high.
  • Find out more about heat-related risks for those 65 and over »
This page last reviewed on Jun 15, 2005 report errors on this page e-mail email this page print print 

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Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U web@HealthyMS.com Facebook Twitter RSS