Dog Days of Summer and Sun Safety

July is UV Safety Awareness Month

The dog days of summer are upon us. The Farmers Almanac  considers the official dog days of summer to be July 3 to August 11. While I’ve heard this idiom most of my life, I was surprised to recently learned that the phrase “dog days of summer” has its roots in ancient Greek where it is in reference to the star Sirius (meaning glowing or scorching) rising with the sun, soon after summer solstice, and often corresponding with the hottest days of the year. The Sirius star is frequently referred to as the Dog Star as it is the brightest star in the Canis Major constellation. In fact, the Sirius star is the brightest star we can see with the naked eye (besides the sun). In ancient times it was believed by some that the brightest of the Sirius star contributed to the magnified heat of summer.

We often use the phrase dog days of summer to describe the hot, humid, and seemingly oppressive days like we have been experiencing the last few weeks. With the sun’s intensity at its highest we need to continue to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful Ultra Violet (UV) radiation rays. The CDC says that UV rays can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes. Sun protection is important for all skin tones. There is sometimes a misconception that Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) are protected from skin cancer because of darker skin tone.  Another misconception is a base tan will protect individuals with light skin from getting a sunburn. We need to remember that tanning is the body’s response to sun damage; there is no such thing as a “good tan”. Ultimately, any sun exposure can lead to skin damage.

Some tips to staying sun safe during the dog days of summer include:

  • Limit sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with 30 to 50 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) – reapply, at least every 2 hours
  • Clothing – Tight woven fabric and darker colors offer the most sun protection there are also several companies that make clothes out of light-weight UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) or UV resistant fabric.
  • Sunglasses (year round) – look for labels that say the glasses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays
  • Wear a hat – it is best to wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your nose, ears, and neck.

For more sun safety tips check out our Ohioline fact sheet


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