Today has been designated "Don't Fry Day" by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention - a day for all of us who live out here on a tropical island to remember that skin cancer caused by exposure to the sun is a daily threat.
Working with the council, the American Cancer Society wants this special day to raise awareness of the prevalence of the disease.
According to National Council's website, skin cancer is preventable, but it is increasing in the United States. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, it is highly treatable.
The best bet is prevention, though. Tips to follow to protect yourself:
* Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun.
* Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you cannot see through when held up to a light.
* Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen (about a palm full) and reapply after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
* Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
* Wrap on sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
* Use the UV index forecast to help protect yourself from harmful UV exposure. The UV index indicates the strength of UV radiation on a scale from 1 (low) to 11+ (extremely high).
* Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun's rays are strongest. Practice the shadow rule and teach it to children. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are at their strongest.
* Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
* Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous because they can damage your skin.
The council also has a one-sentence reminder to avoid skin cancer:
Remember to Slip! Slop! Slap! . . . and Wrap when you're outdoors - slip on a shirt, slop on broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, slap on a wide-brimmed hat, and wrap on sunglasses.
Follow these rules and don't fry today - or any other day.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.