Weather UV Index

What exactly is the UV index and why is it important?

Similar to the weather news, UV index is a tool used in broadcasting the predicted UV levels of the day. It is set as the international standard measurement for ultra violet levels at a particular place on a particular day.

The UV indexes have been observed in different countries including the United States. The use of UV indices (or indexes) has increased the public’s awareness on the dangers of UV rays. It basically helps people prevent overexposure to UV rays which eventually results in sunburns, eye damage, premature skin aging and in other conditions. In this light, it improves the people’s understanding of the dangers of UV rays.

Ultraviolet radiation can be classified as UVA, UVB and UVC. The A type has a wave length of 320 to 400 nm, the B type has a wave length of 280 to 320 nm and the C one has a wave length of approximately 100 to 280 nm. Among the 3 types only the UVA and UVB reach the surface of the earth while the C type is filtered by the ozone layer. Most of the UVB can be blocked by clouds but the UVA gets through almost completely even in a cloudy day. The index takes the A and the B type into consideration so you should protect yourself against both types.

The UV index represents the levels of UV exposure with scales that correspond to a number. The scale ranges from 0 to 11+. Tropical areas like Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic have a fairly high index all year long so is important to take that into consideration before taking a sun bath.

Each level of the scale has specific descriptions to guide you in understanding the index:

• 0 to 2: Low. At this level, there is a low danger to the solar UV rays exposure. This level may be observed during winter months and in higher latitudes but you have to be careful as ultraviolet radiation reflected by the snow can increase its overall intensity. Even at this minimal level of exposure, some protection is recommended (sunscreen SPF +15) if you are close to reflective surfaces like sand, water or snow. Under normal conditions wearing sunglasses and brimmed hats is good enough.

• 3 to 5: Moderate. Moderate risk is already observed at this level. There is an increased danger from unprotected sun exposure at this UV index. Wearing eye protection, for example sunglasses with a label indicating it, staying in shade or covering up with protective clothing is particularly necessary at midday.  Looking at your shadow can be really helpful at this point, if is short your exposure is high and you must immediately look for shade. A long shadow gives the indication that UV rays are weaker so you should be ok.

• 6 to 7: High. A reading at these levels means high risk of the dangers of UV rays exposure. Applying sunscreen lotions with at least a SPF of 25 and the use of a brimmed hat is advised. Remember to reduce exposition to sunlight during the day and the use of UV protective glasses is a must. This will prevent the onset of sunburn and related skin problems.

• 8 to 10: Very High. It is important to minimize sun exposure at this UV index levels particularly during the midday hours; 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The use of protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen is a must.

• 11+: Extreme. A reading of 11 or higher must be taken seriously as it presents very high risks of suffering from skin problems such as sunburns. Beach goers should follow all previous recommendations and try to avoid staying under the sun from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. where the exposure is at peak levels. The use of sunscreen every 2 hours is absolutely necessary when the UV index goes this high.

Safety Tips to prevent UV radiation damage

• The first thing you can do to reduce the amount of damage received from the sun rays is to avoid getting sunburn on the same spot over and over again.

• Shaded spots can be very beneficial to you. As you probably know sunlight radiation is the strongest between late in the morning and early in the afternoon so during that time is best to look for any trees or any other area that provide decent coverage from the sun. 

• One detail that some people may not be aware of is that sand, water and snow can reflect sunlight which increases the risk of getting sunburn so pay close attention near these surfaces.

• At all times pay attention of the UV index, schedule your activities according to its intensity to reduce any possible damage to your skin.

• UV rays from tanning beds can be quite dangerous to your skin as well so if you want to look tanned the safest way is to use a sunless tanning spray.

• Special protective clothing can provide a great defense against ultraviolet rays; sunglasses, hats, pants and long sleeve shirts made of certain fibers are very useful when you have to expose yourself to the sun.

• To get the proper amount of vitamin D seek the sun rays very early in the morning when they are less dangerous.

• Sunscreen should be the last resort against potential sunburn from a high UV index. By using one with a SPF of 25 or more you can diminish the effect of solar radiation over your skin.

The season of summer is fast approaching. In preparation for it, most people tend to get busy with the planning of activities in order to take advantage of the fair weather that lies ahead. Many go to the beach and visit places like Punta Cana to spend their well-earned vacation break. The options of doing exciting activities under the sun are limitless. Similarly, the health problems caused by staying too long under the sun are also limitless. A high UV index can mean a lot of potential problems.

Check the Ultraviolet Index 10 day forecast.

The UV rays are everywhere, most of which comes from the sun. UV rays can be reflected in the concrete, sand, water, and snow. With the continuous depletion of the earth’s ozone, the primary shield against the sun’s UV rays, the exposure to these harmful rays increases. Exposure to those rays is observed to be strongest during the summer months. Hence, keeping monitoring the UV scale is equally important to monitoring the weather reports.

The interesting thing about UV rays or radiation is that it cannot be seen and it cannot be felt. The use a UV index scale prompts the public of the necessary measures of getting the necessary protection against these harmful rays.

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