Sun safety throughout the seasons

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Sun Protection through the seasons

Being outdoors is good for you. Throughout the year, remember to check the UV Index before going outside and take precautions to protect yourself, particularly if you work or play outside for long periods of time.

Winter

The UV Index is very low during the winter in Canada, but skiing and other outdoor winter activities can increase your exposure.  Remember that bright white surfaces like snow can double your exposure to UV.  If you are skiing in the mountains, you will receive even more UV due to the elevation.  So take precautions, if you are going to be outdoors for most of the day, particularly on snow.

Spring

In Canada, the UV Index is highest in the spring and the summer.  April is a good time to start taking more precautions.

Spring skiing is fun, but it’s easy to get a bad sunburn. Fresh white snow can reflect over 80% of the UV from the sun, meaning you are receiving almost twice as much UV.  Wear ski goggles to protect your eyes, and sunscreen on any exposed skin.

Image of UV Index infographic - What UV rays can cause.
Long description. To
download the PDF, visit our
publications page.

Summer

The sun is strongest in the summertime, so, consider doing outdoor activities such as biking before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m

Be extra careful at the beach - you can sunburn quickly, because you are exposed to more UV. Cover up and try to spend less time in the sun - bring a beach umbrella, or seek the shade.

Follow our sun safety tips, and be sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or exercising.

Fall

While the UV Index can be high in early September, it decreases quickly, and by October it is much lower,  and is of little concern until the snow falls.

Sun safety at school and in the community


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A student sitting under a tree listening to music.

Young people are particularly sensitive to sun exposure. They spend time outside when the sun is strong, especially during lunches, recess and sporting activities.  As part of public health and safety, helping young people protect themselves from the sun will go a long way to preventing serious health problems later in life.  Damage from sunburn will stay with you for life and lead to even more dangerous problems later in life.

Get your school or community organization involved in creating a sun safety program.  Here are some tips:

  • Organize outdoor activities outside the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and, if possible, try to keep children entirely out of the sun from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Encourage children and youth to practice sun safe behavior, including wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen, and to seek shade from trees, awnings, umbrellas or buildings.
  • Make your own shade: get the kids involved in planting trees or building their own shade.
  • The SunSense program from the Canadian Cancer Society supports schools in creating a sun safe environment and developing a SunSense policy to protect staff and students through education and awareness of sun safe practices. 
  • Check out the colouring pages for children from the Canadian Dermatology Association: SunSense program from the Canadian Cancer Society.
  • Order a free UV poster and wallet cards from Environment and Climate Change Canada and follow our tips.
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