Fun, sun, and safety: what you need to know this summer

When the first rays of sunshine break through the wintry clouds and the humidity hits 80 percent, Floridians come out of a Sleeping Beauty-like stupor and begin to thrive.

When the first rays of sunshine break through the wintry clouds and the humidity hits 80 percent, Floridians come out of a Sleeping Beauty-like stupor and begin to thrive.

Ok, maybe that's not true. But, Florida is a summertime destination with our lovely beaches, our freshwater streams, amusement parks, and oh, who could forget that blistering heat?

You hear the spiel every year: it's important to protect your skin when you're out in the sun.

But did you know that the sunscreen you're using is probably only blocking 10 percent of harmful UV rays?

Here's the skinny: UV rays are split into two different types of rays -- UV A and UV B.

Meteorologist Mike Prangley has a message for the masses about this:

"We have to be careful when it comes to UV rays. UV B rays, or the burn rays, make up only 10 percent of damaging sunrays. Most sun damage is from UV A rays that we cannot feel and make up 90 percent of rays that can cause skin cancer. Make sure to use broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply often. But sunscreen alone is not enough. You need breaks from the sun and a hat and sunglasses this time of year."

Mike put on his mythbuster hat (literally) and is setting the record straight about damaging UV rays:

Meteorologist Mike Prangley is here to teach you some things that could save your skin!

Mike's getup is comical, of course, but protecting your skin can be a matter of life and death.

Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body. Alex Osiadacz spoke with nurse practitioner Angela Armstrong, who recommends doing a once-a-month self exam to look for sun spots or moles that look out of the ordinary.

Cancerous moles can vary in size and color, but the key is that they change shape and color over time. Typically with a noncancerous mole, it won't change with time. So, be sure to check yourself regularly.

Some tips to keep your skin from being damaged in the sun.

So now you know how to protect your skin, so what about your eyes? Yeah, they can be damaged severely by the sun too. 

It turns out, much like with skin, prevention now is key for healthy eyes down the road. Dr. Amit Chokshi, ophthalmologist with Florida Eye Specialists, suggests on the bright days to wear sunglasses, a hat, or just chill in some shade to keep UV eye exposure to a minimum. 

"Red eyes, burning eyes, perhaps even itchy eyes;" signs of a bigger problem, Dr. Amit Chokshi said, some that could lead to permanent vision impairment. Unfortunately, this is not unique to summertime, UV exposure is a year-round concern. 

For all the blue-eyed gingers out there, we have some bad news. If you are more pale or have light colored eyes you are more susceptible to UV damage to skin and eyes.

"People can get overexposure very easily especially living in Jacksonville where the sun is prevalent especially during the summer," Dr. Chokshi said.

Alex Osiadacz spoke with Dr. Chokshi about the ramifications of UV damage on eyes:

A little protection now can save a lot of pain in the future.

Fun in the sun is for kids of all ages but it is the little ones we hear the scary stories about during the summer. Sometimes, we hear scary stories of almost-accidents, but all too often the stories are ones of caution because of a life lost.

Recently, across the First Coast, there have been five accidental drownings involving children. It is surprising how young children can begin learning how to swim. 

Survival swimming lessons can save a child's life.

When children are very young, even before the age of one, they can be taught to flip onto their back and float to avoid drowning. As they get a little older, like four-year-old Collin, they can be taught to actually swim to save themselves from drowning.

So enjoy the sun, the sand, and the poolside but be sure to take precaution with your skin, eyes, and loved ones.

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