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As temperatures heat up, make sure to slap on some sunscreen

Summer time is here once again, and with it comes sweltering heat and the temptation to “catch some rays.”

We’re all about a little fun in the sun, but it is important to do so safely. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a great time to remind yourself of the most effective ways to protect your skin from sun damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best ways to prevent skin cancer and “Practice Safe Sun” are:

• Applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher

• Seeking shade when appropriate

• And wearing sun-protective clothing and performing regular skin self-exams to detect skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable.

Being outside in the sun is unavoidable for many people, so using sunscreen is paramount. A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours for maximum effectiveness, and the average adult needs one ounce, or a shot glass full, of sunscreen to cover their entire body.

Seeking shade also needs to be a priority, as the sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A good rule of thumb is, if your shadow is shorter than you are, it’s a good idea to stay in the shade.

Sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection, are a must for anyone spending an extended amount of time outside. For more effective sun protection, select clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.

A sun tan — whether from hours fishing at the lake or from a few minutes a week at the tanning bed — is a sign that your skin is damaged. Every tan or sunburn you get piles up, and increases the rate at which your skin ages. Tans and sunburns also increase your risk of skin cancer — including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

So, get outside this summer. Enjoy outdoor activities — but do so safely. Take care of your skin, because it’s the only one you’ve got.