Ah, summer. This season is highly enjoyable for many families. When school’s out and the sun’s shining, there’s no better time to get outside. That said, these next few months can pose many dangers. Although many of us love nothing more than to take a dip or soak up some rays, the reality is that you could be risking your health by doing so. However, by being aware of those risks, you can have a happy and healthy summer doing all the things you love most.

​Let’s talk about sun safety first. You might love the look of tanned skin, but any and all direct exposure to sunlight is dangerous. Even if it’s overcast, you still need protection from it! In fact, cloudy days can actually emit 80% of UV sunlight that comes through on totally clear days. That means you can’t afford to skip the hat, the sunglasses, and the sunscreen.

While no sunblock actually protects you from 100% of UV rays, you still need to take precautions. Wearing some sunblock is certainly better than none. And in general, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is considered to be effective. If you’re especially pale or prone to sunburn, you may want to pick up some SPF 50.

But the SPF rating won’t matter much if you aren’t applying your sunscreen correctly! Recent data revealed that many of us don’t even know how to correctly apply sunscreen or don’t know that higher SPFs don’t protect you from the sun for longer periods. Although sunscreens with an SPF of above 30 will protect you from more than 97% of the sun’s rays, they won’t last for longer time frames; that’s why sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours (or more frequently, in some cases), particularly if you’re sitting in the sun, running around, or swimming in the water.

Speaking of water: you may love to splash around in the lake, the ocean, or the pool — but you should always do so with caution. Despite the fact that children can be introduced to the water starting at six months of age, that doesn’t mean that swimming is always safe. You should never swim alone (remember the buddy rule!) and never swim without a lifeguard present. Be sure to use flotation devices like life vests if you’re out on a boat or are an inexperienced swimmer. To prevent accidental drowning at your home, make sure to install a four-sided, self-locking enclosed fence around your pool, spa, or other body of water. Keep in mind that young children can actually drown in less than two inches of water — so never assume that anything is too shallow.

These statistics may be scary, but they can help you make safe decisions this summer. Always keep them in mind and take steps to protect yourself and your family when out in the sun or swimming in the water.