By Megan Wolfarth, Training and Safety Director
Everyone knows that Pittsburgh isn’t one of the sunniest cities around. In fact, according to www.123syracuse.com, Pittsburgh ranks as the 19th cloudiest city in the U.S. with an average of 206 overcast days a year! So with that said, it’s important to note that sunburns happen even on days when it’s overcast.
Most people think that because it is cloudy, that the sun’s rays can’t burn them. It’s a proven fact, however, that the clouds do not give protection to any of the UV (Ultraviolet) Rays. In fact, sunburns and damage happen more often on cloudy days because people think they can’t get burned and do not take necessary precautions.
Make sure to understand what the ratings on your sunscreen mean. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and just because you have sunscreen marked SPF-30 doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun twice as long. That only means that SPF-30 filters out 97% of the sun’s harmful rays, while SPF-15 filters out 93%. They both last the same amount of time, which is usually just a couple of hours (2-3 hours, to be exact). It’s good to re-apply it early and often while spending prolonged amounts of time in the sun.
Another important point to mention is that people with fair skin, or who may have a tendency to burn, should use more sunscreen more often, although everyone should wear some kind of protection against the sun.
One last note! Sunscreen is only good for about one summer, so it’s a good idea to replace it on a yearly basis. (And drink lots of water! It’s getting hot outside!)