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What is the UV index?

Published On: Jul 27 2011 11:57:31 AM CDT

The UV, or ultraviolet, index is a daily risk index. It measures the risk that overexposure to sunlight can bring.

The UV Index forecast is provided both daily and hourly. The forecast considers the sun's angle and cloud coverage.

The index is on a scale of 1 to 11+. A forecast of 1 is the lowest (least threatening) and an 11+ forecast would represent the most extreme threat.

The EPA issues UV Alerts whenever the index is forecast for a level of 6 or higher. When an alert is issued, extra steps should be taken to protect your skin.

Some protective measures include: applying a high sunscreen SPF and limiting your outdoor activities.


Category Index:

Low 1-2

* Wear sunglasses on bright days. In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.
* If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen.

Moderate 3-5

* Take precautions, such as covering up and using sunscreen, if you will be outside.
* Stay in the shade near midday when the sun is strongest.

High 6-7

* Protection against sunburn is needed.
* Reduce time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.

Very High 8-10

* Take extra precautions. Unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn quickly.
* Try to avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise, seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.

Extreme 11+

* Seek shade, cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen.
* Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
* Take all precautions. Unprotected skin can burn in minutes. Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and will increase UV exposure.

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