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The UV Index explained

July 22, 2017 - 12:00 AM

The UV Index is important to understand if you want to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays.

The UV Index is a measure of the sun's strength and has the sun's rays increase they can do more harm to your skin, eyes, and immune system, according to Environment Canada. In order to help Canadians protect themselves from the sun, scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada created the index in 1992, which is a measure of the strength of the sun’s UV, or Ultra Violet, rays. In Canada the UV index is on a scale from zero to ten, however, tropical countries have a UV Index up to 14.

When the UV Index is between zero and two, UV rays aren't typically a problem, however, when there is fresh white snow on the ground it can reflect up to 80 per cent of the suns rays, so you are receiving almost twice as much UV. Environment Canada states this is low and minimal protection is required.

Protection is important when the UV Index is between three and seven, even when it is a cloudy day. Environment Canada labels this as moderate on their UV Index. In order to protect yourself, you should wear hats and cover your skin. Sunscreen should be worn on any exposed skin to help protect it from damaging rays, especially when planning to be outdoors for more than half an hour.

When the UV Index is between eight to ten it is important to protect yourself because this is very high. Environment Canada recommends considering doing outdoor activities before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. when UV rays are at their strongest. Also, people need to protect their eyes with sunglasses, ones that provide UV protection, and remain in the shade as much as possible. Sunscreen should be applied to any exposed skin and be repeated after swimming or sweating. In the summer people need to keep in mind that light surfaces, such as sand, can reflect UV rays and increase exposure.

If the UV Index is 11 or above, it is extreme. This is more common in the tropics and is very rare in Canada according to the weather office. This can be found in southern U.S. states or the tropics.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Taylor Rae or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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