As summer starts to roll back around, it is important to start thinking about sun protection.

This holds especially true for Eckerd students living in ever-sunny Florida. We live in a fair amount of sunshine year-round and feel the effects especially during the warmer months.

While these effects can result in cosmetic benefits such as tanning our skin and bleaching our hair, it is important to remember that there are also negative consequences of long term sun exposure.

These consequences range from the ever-constant threat of skin cancers to just really bad burns.

Before writing yourself off as being immune to such issues due to your already golden tan, remember that anyone and everyone can be subject to these effects.

“I burned myself twice out at the Waterfront whilst tanning without the proper sun protection, and did some serious damage to my skin,” Freshman Liz Comeau said.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to know and remember the strategies for keeping one’s body healthy while “thinking outside.”

The most obvious of these is sunscreen. Many people seem to think that applying sunscreen will somehow prevent them from tanning to the same extent as they otherwise could.

This is untrue, however, and sunscreen merely acts as a shield to some of the more harmful UV rays trying to penetrate your skin.

The SPF rating on the side of your sunscreen bottle translates directly to Sun Protection Factor, and the number associated explains the amount of time that one is supposed to be exposed.

Students should take this into account when using sunscreen, and remember that anything under SPF 30 is much too low for extensive sun bathing.

Further, it is important to cover every part of one’s body because even though someone may not burn in certain areas often, that does not shield their body from other effects of prolonged UV radiation.

Another important factor to keep in mind is eye protection. Sunglasses are a must, being as close to the tropics as Eckerd is.

This issue will continue to be important as our climate changes and UV radiation becomes more prevalent.

These sun rays are incredibly harmful to the eyes and essentially burn into one’s retinas.

Thus, spending time in the sun over the year without proper sunglasses can cause gradual loss in vision quality.

Since not all people are comfortable wearing sunglasses, an alternative to these is wearing a hat. Though not quite as effective, a hat can shade eyes from the direct sunlight, even if it does not block rays to the same extent.

All in all, the best way for students to stay healthy as the sun gets more intense this year is to limit exposure time.

Though the aforementioned strategies are effective for combating UV exposure, nothing is more effective than exposure in moderation. The use of sunscreen is also an  added layer of protection.

So remember next time you’re out at the Waterfront, take a break, find some shade and rehydrate to help yourself stay healthy.

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