sid_slip_slop_slap_seek_slideJune is UV Safety Month.

In 1981, the Cancer Council Victoria gave birth to a seagull named Sid.  Sid is the popular figure that promotes how to reduce sun exposure in Australia.  I think their campaign to reduce the risk of skin cancer is a good idea and kayakers should rethink how we treat our skin while we paddle under the Florida sun.

* * *

CDC Statistics: In the United States, incidence of melanoma of the skin has

  • increased significantly by 7.7% per year from 2003 to 2005 among men.
  • increased significantly by 2.9% per year from 1993 to 2005 among women.

Kayakers paddle on a giant UV reflective surface; consequently, we increase our risk of developing skin cancer and harming the eyes.  I have hear of all of the excuses: I work in an office and I paddle to get a tan, it is too hot to wear a long-sleeve shirt and hat, a shirt will produce an armpit rash, I do not want to be greasy, et cetera.

I grew up backpacking and we need to think like a person walking in the desert.  Dress for the sun exposure.  And remember that the sun’s rays can still damage skin and eyes even on a cloudy day.  Wear loose-fitting, light-colored synthetic clothing.  I usually avoid cotton fabric, except in extreme windless summer heat. A long-sleeved shirt will protect the skin from sunburn,  and it does reduce water loss from perspiration.

I want to paddle well past my 80’s, and I do not want my enjoyment of the outdoors to be cut short because of skin cancer.  That is why I…

  1. Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.  Preventing Skin Cancer: kayak kit • May 5, 2009
  2. Slop on SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen liberally to dry skin, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.
  3. Slap on a broad brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade during the time of day when the UV index is the highest
  5. Slide on sunglasses the sun is bright and there is a great danger the sun can harm the eyes. Everyone is at risk for eye damage that can lead to vision loss from exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Bollé Sunglasses • January 7, 2009 •

—Jeff

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