Have you been getting sunburnt more quickly the past week? If so, it would make sense. More of the sun’s UV rays have been reaching us in the Netherlands, for a variety of reasons. But this month, the sun is set to be the strongest. So lather on that sunscreen and grab your sunhats, people. These UV rays are no laughing matter.
The UV index
The UV index is a measure of how much of the sun’s UV rays reach the earth’s surface. It runs on a scale of 1-10+. A value of about 8 is the maximum you’ll normally get during Dutch summers.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) predicts that the UV index will be around 7-8 (if there is no cloud cover). This means that the “average Dutch person” with unprotected skin could get sunburnt within 10-15 minutes.
|UV index||Strength of rays||Minutes for unprotected skin to redden (average Dutch skin)||Skin burns?|
|1 – 2||Practically none||50 – 100||/|
|3 – 4||Weak||25 – 35||Protect vulnerable skin.|
|5 – 6||Medium||15 – 25||Quite easily.|
|7 – 8||Strong||10 – 15||Quickly.|
|9 – 10+||Very strong||<10||Very quickly.|
In fact, Sunday 11 June saw a record 8.7 measurement in Bilthoven (probably also due to some particular cloud formations and thin ozone layer). This was measured by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).
What impacts the UV index?
On June 21st the sun will be almost directly above the Netherlands. This means UV rays have less of a distance to travel before they reach the earth. Along with other factors such as amount and type of cloud-cover, thickness of the ozone layer, and amount of particles in the air, this impacts the UV index measurement.
Between 12:00 – 15:00 is prime UV-time, so make sure you take this into account.
Cloud-cover can halve the value of predicted UV index values, but don’t get complacent. They will still be high enough that sunscreen is advisable. Anyway, it’s hard to predict as it depends on the type of clouds. Some cloud types may actually increase the value (this may have happened on Sunday 11th)!
Protect yo’ self
The high UV index prognoses provide a reason for everyone to use sunscreen (and maybe rock that sunhat).
The song you want to hear now:
Even if your skin is quite sun-resilient or you’re already tanned, you should consider lathering up and wearing adequate sun protection. Skin type makes a difference, of course. But it’s still not guaranteed protection against burns or skin cancer.
Obviously, if you have skin that’s sensitive to the sun’s rays, it’s even more important to take care.
And if you already felt the effects last weekend, you should know to be extra careful. Wear some long, light clothes that protect damaged skin comfortably.
Finally, be aware of your sunglasses. Make sure they have UV protection because eyes are sensitive to UV light too. Prolonged exposure can even cause cataracts; bad sunglasses increase the risk by letting in more UV rays. So better watch out this weekend, cause the sun is coming in full force:
Featured image source: RIVM twitter feed, 14 may 2017.