UV index and sun safety

The UV Index was developed to help Canadians protect themselves from the sun’s damaging UV (ultraviolet) rays.  The higher the UV Index, the stronger the sun's rays, and the greater the need to take sun safety precautions.  In Canada the UV Index ranges from 0 to 11+. 

UV can cause sunburn, eye cataracts, skin aging and skin cancer. The amount of UV that you receive depends on the strength of the sun, as measured by the UV Index, and the amount of time you spend in the sun.  Protect yourself by checking the UV index and by wearing a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and spending less time in the sun. 

4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention: Toronto 2018

How to find your daily UV Index

  • During the spring and summer, the UV Index forecast is available in your weather report on Canada.ca/weather, when the Index is 3 or higher.
  • Throughout the year, UV Index forecast for 47 communities across Canada is also available in our daily UV Index Forecast bulletin.
  • More about the UV forecast and the UV index

A chart showing the exposure risks of the UV index. See long description below.
Image details
Table 1. Exposure Risks of the UV Index
Colour Exposure Category UV Index
Green Low 0 - 2
Yellow Moderate 3 - 5
Orange High 6-7
Red Very High 8-10
Fuschia Extreme 11+

Sun safety tips

Enjoy the sun safely: Protect your skin, protect your eyes.

Protect your skin

When the UV Index is 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. In general, the UV Index in Canada can be 3 or higher from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September, even when it’s cloudy.

Image of hat, sunscreen and sunglasses at the beach
Photo: © Markord, istock.com, 2016

  • Seek shade or bring your own (e.g., an umbrella).
  • Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible and a wide-brimmed hat, as appropriate to the activity and weather.
  • Use sunscreen labelled "broad spectrum" and "water resistant" with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on skin not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply often.
  • Avoid getting a sunburn and avoid intentional tanning.
  • Health Canada does not recommend the use of tanning equipment (especially for people under the age of 18).

 Protect your eyes

  • Wear sunglasses or eyeglasses with UV protective lenses.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat for added eye protection.

Sun safety for children and travelers

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