The Friday prior to Memorial Day weekend has been designated by the American Cancer Society and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention as 'Don’t Fry Day', to encourage sun safety awareness.  

Northern Ag Network had the opportunity to speak with Drusilla Hufford, director of EPA's Stratospheric Protection Division, who was involved in helping deciding the date for sun safety awareness.  

“'Don't Fry Day' is basically held on the gateway to summer.  The Friday before Memorial Day is for a lot of Americans the day when the pool opens, when people are thinking about brushing up on the golf game, when a lot of people are thinking about hitting the beaches.  And so it seems like a wonderful time on the Friday before Memorial Days to basically declare a “Don't Fry Day”, a day when Americans remember what are the steps to keep themselves and their families safe from too much sun,” Hufford said.  

Farmers and ranchers, who spend a great deal of time working outdoors, are particularly vulnerable to skin cancer.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, outdoor workers, like farmers and rancher, are twice as likely to develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime, it’s even more important for them spend a little more time protecting their skin.     

Best Prevention Tips

Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher should be applied 15 minutes or more before you go out,  even on cloudy days. Don't forget lips can get sunburned too, so be sure have a lip balm handy that has at least an SPF of 15 or higher.  

Note:  If you've got several old bottles of sunscreen laying around from last year, be sure to toss them and get a new bottle.  Sunscreen loses it's effectiveness over time, so pay attention to the expiration dates.    

Protective Clothing and Hats  
You know the drill:  Hats, long sleeve light colored shirts, and sunglasses can all help minimize exposure, particularly if you are going to be out between 10 am to 4 pm when the sun is most intense. A hat in particular can be a very useful tool in skin cancer prevention. 

“A lot of people, for whatever reason, are not likely to remember most of the steps, but it's pretty easy on your way out, whatever activity you have planned for the day, to slip on a broad brimmed hat.” said Hufford.  She noted a caution on ball caps as a lot of skin cancers appear on the tips of the ears and on the back of the next.   

“If you have to be out on a day when you don't know what the weather will be, the EPA has a UVA index that we produce with the National Weather Service.   It's free, it's available on our website.  You can also get it as free smart phone app.  That will give you a really good guide to what the strength of the sun will be and what are the tips you should be thinking about as you go out to work,”  Hufford said.

Early Detection  
The good news is that skin cancer is highly curable is detected early. Examine your skin regularly — and your loved ones too.  If you note any changes in the size color shape or texture of a mole, development of a new mole or any other unusual changes in the skin, get it checked out sooner than later.  

It's also important to note:  Men are more likely to die from melanoma, likely due to late detection. Common locations where melanoma can develop include the back, arms, neck and shoulders. Women get more melanomas on their legs. Farmers with years of outdoor sun exposure are more likely to develop a form of melanoma that occurs more commonly on the head, ears and neck region. This type of melanoma can resemble a large, dark freckle with irregular borders.

So as you are out and about on this 'Don't Fry Day or the rest of the Memorial weekend, take a little extra time to consider sun safety and be sure to grab a hat!

—Excerpts from Penn State University Agricultural Safety and Health News, Vol. 20, No. 3

 

© Northern Ag Network 2015
 

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