By Steve Chaconas
Enjoying the outdoors ain’t what it used to be.
To get that “Coppertone tan,” we used to lather up with suntan lotion. Now we avoid the sun by covering up with clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunscreen.
That “healthy glow” now comes with the threat of skin cancer. You can’t even hang your arm out of the car window while driving—in fact you might even want to put up a sun screen on your windows for protection.
Our eyes are next on the endangered list.
Sunglasses used to be for the “movie stars.” Now they’re an essential piece of gear to protect from UVA and UVB rays.
Sun can damage your eyes, contributing to cataracts, macular degeneration, eyelid cancers…or at least a headache.
I’m outside more than most and on the water where I’m in direct contact with the harmful effects of the sun.
Many professional bass fishermen like Mark Menendez and Guy Eaker have had numerous melanomas removed and consider sun damage an avoidable occupational hazard.
When it comes to skin cancer, it is prudent to avoid any sunburn at any age.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you avoid unnecessary sun exposure, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. which are the peak hours for harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Apply sunscreens rated SPF 15 or higher liberally and uniformly 20 minutes before going in the sun. Reapply every two hours—and more frequently if swimming or doing vigorous exercise.
When exposed to sunlight, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-protective sunglasses. Stay away from artificial tanning devices.
The damage that leads to adult skin cancers starts in childhood. Examine your skin head to toe at least once every three months. Also keep in mind the sun can cause damage even in the winter months and under overcast skies!
Remember to protect your lips. Many lip balms now contain sunscreen.
SPF (sun protection factor) is a standard rating, so cheaper sunscreens are just as effective in blocking ultraviolet rays. The “use-by” date of your sunscreen should be checked — replace every three years.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can damage skin in less than 10 minutes of exposure.
Sunscreen alone will not protect skin adequately. Clothing also provides protection. Many clothing lines offer UPF 15(Ultraviolet Protection Factor), along with sun-blocking collars. Try a hat on for size to offer further protection.
Don’t let the sun get in your eyes! Glare can cause permanent vision problems when participating in the outdoors, whether driving or fishing. Glare is everywhere, even on hazy days.
There are three kinds of glare:
Reflective glare is caused by light waves reflected from flat, smooth, or shiny surfaces which create blinding hot spots that are uncomfortable, distracting, and sometimes dangerous.
Direct glare is caused by looking into the sun or a bright light emanating from a direct source, most often the sun or overhead lights.
Bounce-back glare comes from behind you and bounces off your sunglasses into your eyes. Only polarized lenses reduce glare therefore making it easier or more comfortable to see.
Non-polarized sunglasses don’t eliminate glare, they only tint it, leaving it just as intense and dangerous.
Ordinary polarization only blocks horizontally reflected glare. The patented technology in Maui Jim Sunglasses protects from all glare elements and come in several lens options.
Glass is more scratch resistant, but plastic Polycarbonate lenses are lighter, can be molded into a variety of fashions, and are highly impact resistant.
Wherever your outdoor voyages take you, take every precaution – especially if cancer or cataracts runs in the family.
Even if you “tan well,” you still need protection! Don’t take a chance! Stay safe on the water!