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. 

How to find your daily UV Index

A chart showing the exposure risks of the UV index. See long description below.
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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+

Fitzpatrick skin type classification system

Skin types are often described using the Fitzpatrick skin type classification system. This system helps to identify an individual’s skin sensitivity to UV radiation based on their natural skin colour.

 However, photosensitivity is not only decided by skin pigmentation. Sensitivity also depends on other factors such as:

Six different Fitzpatrick skin types

There are six different categories of skin types according to the Fitzpatrick scale to describe skin photosensitivity. Type I is the most sensitive and type VI is the least sensitive. Individuals with type I skin are more susceptible to sun damage and are more likely to burn in a shorter amount of time when the UV Index is 3 or higher.

Regardless of skin type, everyone needs to protect themselves from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Skin type I

Skin type II

Skin type III

Skin type IV

Skin type V

Skin type VI

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.

 Protect your eyes

Sun safety for children and travelers

Related links

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