As schools let out and summer approaches, it is important for us to remember to stay healthy and safe under the sun and in the water. Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the most deadly kind of skin cancer. Just a few serious sunburns at any age can increase a person's risk of skin cancer. We all share the water we swim in, and each of us needs to do our part to help keep ourselves, our families, and our friends healthy while swimming.
To help protect yourself and others from disease and germs, here are a few easy and effective steps to take this season:
- SEEK shade: especially during midday hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America.
- PROTECT your body: wear clothing that protects the skin such as a wide-brimmed hat to shade the face, head, ears, and neck; and wraparound sunglasses that block as close to 100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays as possible (sunglasses safeguard the eyes from UVA and UVB rays, protect the tender skin around the eyes from sun exposure, and reduce the risk of cataracts).
- APPLY sunscreen: sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection. Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, and toweling off.
- CHECK pools: before getting into the water, check the pool to see if it is at the proper chlorine level (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) to maximize germ-killing power.
- KEEP the feces and urine out of the water while swimming: don't swim when ill with diarrhea; chlorine and other disinfectants don't kill germs instantly; mixing of chlorine with urine and sweat uses up the germ-killing chlorine in the pool and creates those chemicals that sting your eyes and make you cough.
- DON'T swallow the water you swim in.
Enjoy your time outdoors and in the water, and take steps to be healthy.