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The UV Index Scale And What It Means For Your Safety

Posted on February 10 2020

man and son enjoying the beach on a day with a low UV index

Summertime brings hot days, beach trips, and something called the UV index on the weather report. It turns out, this number isn’t just for weathermen. It’s also important for keeping your family safe in the sun!

If you’re not sure how the UV index affects you, that’s what we’re here for! In this article, Babo Botanicals helps you understand the UV index scale so you can use it to protect your family from the sun all year round!

What Is The UV Index Scale?

The World Health Organization (WHO) created the UV index (abbreviated as UVI) in an effort to quantify the levels of UV radiation and the danger of sun exposure.

Having that information helps people know what they need to do to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays.

The UV index is shown as a number between one and 11+. This scale is used internationally, so it’s the same on your weather channel in the United States, online, or in your weather app.

When you check the weather forecast, you may see one number listed as the UVI for the day. That number refers to the highest UV radiation of that day, which will usually happen between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. In other cases, an hourly UVI forecast is given.

Let’s take a look at the numbers on the UV index scale and what they mean.

woman sitting on a mountain enjoying the sunshine

Understanding The UV Index Scale

As we mentioned, the UV index scale goes from zero to 11+. The higher the number the stronger the sun’s rays.

In other words, it’s more dangerous to spend time in the sun without protection when the UVI number is high, and your skin is likely to burn and become damaged more quickly.

That important number is based on the UV radiation from the sun, taking into account several factors that play into UV radiation: clouds, elevation, latitude, weather, the reflection of the sun, the time of year, and more.

For each number or range of numbers, the UVI scale includes appropriate sun protection recommendations. You may also see an estimation of the time it takes to get a sunburn with a given number.

Those recommendations and estimations are based on the fair-skinned people of the world who burn often and tan occasionally. You’ll need to adjust if you have particularly light skin that’s quick to burn.

On the other side of the spectrum, don’t think that you’re off the hook just because you have dark skin. Everyone needs sun protection! Your skin doesn’t have to burn in order to be damaged by the sun.

couple outside having fun on a low UV index day

All that being said, let’s get straight to the numbers.

UVI 1-2 (Low Risk)

With a UV index of one or two, there is a low risk for sunburn and damage. While you should wear sunscreen daily, this low risk means you can enjoy the outdoors all day with little extra sun protection.

Even so, it still pays to be sun-smart. Don your sunglasses if it’s a bright day, and use sun protection if you know that you burn at the drop of a hat.

UVI 3-5 (Moderate Risk)

When the UV index is three, four, or five, your risk for sunburn and damage is moderate. While the risk is still relatively low, at this point, you’ll need to put some thought and effort into sun protection.

Especially if you’re fair-skinned, be sure to apply sunscreen and opt for a hat, some shade, and protective clothing.

UVI 6-7 (High Risk)

With a UV index of six or seven, everyone should be looking for the beach umbrella or nearest shade tree when the sun is high in the sky!

Regardless of the natural color of your skin, try to be in the shade when the sun is at its strongest on these days — usually somewhere between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

In addition to flocking to the shade, armor up with sun protection. That includes sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, and lots of sunscreen.

woman sunbathing and reading a magazine at the beach

UVI 8-10 (Very High Risk)

At a UV index of eight to ten, the best thing to do is stay inside during the midday, peak-sun hours. Isn’t shade good enough? Nope.

With a UV index of eight to ten, your beach umbrella still won’t cut it. The UV rays can be reflected off of water, sand, cement, and the like. That means you’re not 100% protected even when you’re in the shade.

That’s why it’s best to not be outside at all during midday hours when the UVI is this high.

Speaking of UV rays reflecting off of the sand, remember the same thing happens with snow. Keep this in mind during snowy play-days or when you’re out for a day on the slopes. Sun protection is still the name of the game!

When the UV index indicates a very high risk, sun protection, like sunscreen and clothing, is a must! Reapply sunscreen often (at least every two hours), and make sure all parts of your body are covered.

If spray-on sunscreens make it easier for you to get every inch of skin protected, go with Babo Botanicals’s Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30. Just remember not to spray it directly on your face.

Babo Botanicals Spray Sunscreen

Also, don’t forget about your lips! Protect them with Babo Botanicals’s SPF 15 Pretty & Protective Lip Tint Trio. Mineral sun protection for your lips in three lovely colors to suit your style!

UVI 11+ (Extreme Risk)

The word “extreme” pretty well sums it up here. Your risk for sun damage is extremely high, and you could burn in a matter of minutes!

Use all sorts of sun protection when you go outside, and stay inside as much as possible, especially during peak hours. This may not be the best time for a pool day!

How To Use The UV Index To Protect Yourself And Your Family

Armed with this information about the UV index scale, using it to protect your family from the harmful rays of the sun is pretty straightforward!

Just like you adjust your clothing for the day based on the weather forecast, you should also plan your sun protection based on the UV index for that day. Get in the habit of checking the UV index when you check the weather!

Here are three more ways you can be sun-safe all year long.

1) Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Applying sunscreen is one sun-protection habit that should be automatic no matter what the UV index is! This is a basic line of protection against sun damage.

But don’t just reach for the nearest sunscreen. All sunscreens are not created equal! Choose one that is safe for your body, gentle on your skin, and provides broad-spectrum protection.

The ingredients used in mineral sunscreen are safer and less irritating to your skin than the chemicals used in chemical blocks. Stay away from the chemical ingredients and opt for a non-nano zinc oxide mineral sunblock.

In addition to being easy on your skin, zinc oxide is naturally broad-spectrum! That means it automatically protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, which is exactly what you want.

Babo Botanicals mineral sunscreen

Babo Botanicals’s Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion provides broad-spectrum protection from the sun while moisturizing your skin with skin-soothing, certified organic oils. It’s safe for your whole family and the coral reefs too!

2) Bring Extra Sun Protection As Needed

Checking the UVI before leaving the house helps you know whether or not you’ll need extra sun protection.

Depending on the forecast and your tendency to burn, at minimum, bring hats and sunglasses for the whole family. On higher risk days, grab beach umbrellas and protective clothing like long-sleeve shirts.

3) Plan Your Time Outside Accordingly

Lastly, knowing the UV index for the day allows you to plan your day accordingly.

If the UV index indicates a high or very high risk, your best bet is to rearrange your plans for outdoor fun to include shade or being indoors during the midday hours.

Be Sun-Smart!

man and woman walking on a pier

Being sun-smart doesn’t have to mean staying inside all day! Instead, it just means knowing what the UV index is and making plans accordingly so you and your family can have fun and be safe!

Check the UV index, apply a Babo Botanicals Mineral Sunscreen daily, and armor-up with extra sun protection as needed. The sun’s got nothing on you!

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