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What is the UV Index?

The UV Index is a tool developed by Environment and Climate Change Canada to monitor and inform Canadians about the strength of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. The higher the UV Index number, the stronger the sun's rays, and the greater the need to take precautions.

 

UV Index Description       Sun Protection Actions
0 - 2 Low
  • Minimal sun protection required for normal activity.
  • Wear sunglasses on bright days. If outside for more than one hour, cover up and use sunscreen.
  • Reflection off snow can nearly double the UV strength. Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen.
3 - 5 Moderate
  • Take precautions - cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen - especially if you will be outside for 30 minutes or more.
  • Look for shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
6 - 7 High
  • Protection required - UV damages the skin and can cause sunburn.
  • Reduce time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and take full precautions - seek shade, cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
8 - 10 Very High
  • Extra precautions required - unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn quickly.
  • Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and take full precautions - seek shade, cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
11+ Extreme
  • Take full precautions. Unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn in minutes. Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Snow, white sand, and other bright surfaces reflect UV and increase UV exposure.
  • Values of 11 or more are very rare in Canada. However, the UV Index can reach 14 or more in the tropics and southern U.S.

UV Protection

Protect your skin

When the UV Index is 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. In general, the UV Index in Canada can be 3 or higher anytime from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September - even on cloudy days.

  • Seek shade or bring your own (e.g., an umbrella).
  • Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible and a wide-brimmed hat, as appropriate to the activity and weather.
  • Use sunscreen labelled "broad spectrum" and "water resistant" with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on skin not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply often.
  • Avoid getting a sunburn and avoid intentional tanning.
  • Health Canada does not recommend the use of tanning equipment (especially for people under the age of 18).

 Protect your eyes

  • Wear sunglasses or eyeglasses with UV protective lenses.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat for added eye protection.

 


Adapted from:
UV Index and Sun Safety. Government of Canada.

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