Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.
The public awareness campaign, developed in Australian, advised residents to “Slip, Slop, Slap (and later, Wrap)” to protect themselves against the harmful effects of the sun, became a huge hit down under. It certainly applies today and anywhere the sun shines down upon us.
SLIP on a shirt. Clothing is one of the most effective protections against UV radiation. Long sleeves offer even more protection. However, be careful of some semi-transparent materials: They may not do as good of a job in blocking the harmful rays of the sun. If you hold the shirt up to the light and can see through it, sunlight & UV radiation can get through it as well.
SLOP on sunscreen. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) gives an indication of how long sunscreen protects the skin from UVB rays before it starts to burn, compared to how long it takes to burn without protection. The higher the number, the more protection you have. According to the American Cancer Society, an SPF of 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays. SPFs of 30 and higher block 97% of UVB rays and are suggested for people who are sun-sensitive, have skin cancer, or are at a high risk for developing skin cancer. Also, keep in mind that being on the water increases your exposure and certain medications can increase your sensitivity to the effects of the sun.
SLAP on a hat. It’s portable shade that goes wherever you go! A wide brim that covers your ears and neck is preferable. If you wear a baseball cap, make sure you cover your neck and ears with sunscreen.
WRAP around sunglasses. They prevent UV rays from entering your eyes from the sides. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requires that sunglasses block a minimum of 50% of UVA and 70% of UVB rays, so look for the ANSI label or make sure the manufacturer states the UV protection offered by its product. Polarized glasses are popular in fishing circles because they’re great for cutting down the glare on the water, but don’t necessarily offer any UV protection.
Finally, here’s a personal note & reminder about checking the EXPIRATION DATES on sunscreen. On a 5-day trip out of San Diego last year, I lathered on the SPF 50 thinking I was well protected against the intense August sun. What I neglected to do was check the expiration date until it was too late! I paid the price for my mistake with a nasty sunburn. My Irish heritage betrayed me again. Fortunately, long range anglers are a generous bunch and I had several offers of “fresh” sunscreen for the rest of the trip, but the damage had been done.
This summer, or really ANY time you hit the water, remember SLIP, SLOP, SLAP, WRAP to protect your skin from the sun. You’ll not only lower the chance of developing skin cancer, you’ll look younger! It’s been scientifically proven that regular use of sunscreen (or just staying out of the sun) will prevent skin damage and premature aging.