Sun Protection for Boaters

Sun protection is the best prevention. In fact, Ninety-three million miles separate our sun from the earth, yet damage from its Ultraviolet (UV) rays KILLS ONE AMERICAN EVERY HOUR!
Malignant melanoma is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women ages 24 to 29, edging out breast cancer for those in the 30 to 34 year range.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., prime boating hours, pose the greatest risk for sun exposure. On the water, UV rays are reflected, attacking us from every direction. Even on cloudy days, 80% of the damaging UV rays break through to bombard our skin. One in 50 fair-skinned Sunbelt residents will get melanoma. Other UV-related effects include premature skin aging, skin cancer and permanent eye damage, even blindness. Skin damage can begin after just 15 minutes of exposure.
That tan you’re sporting is your body’s way of alerting you that damage has already been done.
The key to avoiding sun damage is prevention. If you choose to be in the sun, always apply sunscreen with UVA (ultraviolet long wave light) and UVB (ultraviolet medium wave light) protection and a minimum sun protective factor (SPF) of 30 on all exposed areas. Sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting and scattering sunlight and contains chemicals that interact with your skin to protect it from UV rays. Reapply it if you’ll be out for more than two hours and be mindful of your sunscreen’s expiration date; it usually has a maximum three-year shelf life.
Wear tightly woven, loose fitting long sleeve shirts and pants. T-shirts only have a minimum SPF rating of 15, often less. Protect your face, neck, head and ears with a wide-brimmed hat – canvas works best. Wrap around sunglasses block UV rays from creeping in from the side, and they reduce the risk of getting cataracts. Make sure you have a source of shade on your boat. If you’re taking antibiotics, antidepressants, diuretics or retinoids, stay out of the sun, period.
Children should be completely protected from UV exposure. 80% of skin damage from the sun is inflicted before age 18. Remember that your pets need sun protection just as much as we humans.
Aside from protection, early detection through monthly, full-body, head-to-toe, front and back self-exams, including your hair, nails, palms and even the soles of your feet, are the best defense against skin disease.
Enjoy your time on the water, but take just a few moments to protect yourself and your family from the risks of sun exposure.