As beaches begin to open up and the days grow longer and brighter in sunny Virginia Beach, VA, you might find yourself spending more time outdoors, walking, hiking or socializing in the sun. While fresh air and Vitamin D are both good for your health and immune system, it’s important to take sun safety precautions to avoid the harmful effects of UV exposure.

When you choose to head outdoors for a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk, beside the Bay or along nearby trails, be sure to wear protective sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. If you know you’ll have limited shade, wear protective clothing and choose your time to head outside wisely. The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so it may be best to plan your outdoor exercise or activities before or after those hours.

Whenever possible, choose shady areas to rest and relax, and limit your time spent in the sun. An hour long walk with the dog at 8 am is not the same as thirty minutes at the beach at 2 pm, so think carefully about how and when to make the most of your outside activities.

Here are simple sun safety tips to help you enjoy a bright and beautiful summer in Virginia Beach, VA.

Always Wear Sunscreen
No matter what time of day you head outdoors or for how long, you will always want to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Even small amounts of UV rays can have harmful effects over time, and if you are fair-skinned or have sensitive skin, they can be even more harmful and twice as fast. Keep sunscreen handy, and reapply throughout the day, if you find yourself heading out for short walks in both the morning and afternoon or evening.

Hats and Sunglasses
The simplest way to protect your forehead, neck, ears, eyes and crown of head is by covering them with wide-brimmed hats and protective sunglasses. Hats block the sun’s rays from burning your exposed scalp, and UV protective sunglasses can help to protect and prolong your vision. These tend to be the areas of the body we think about least when we head outdoors, but they can be just as affected by the sun’s UV rays. Always be sure to cover up your head and eyes before you head outside.

Wear Protective Clothing
Try to dress in loose, flowing clothing garments to help block out the sun and keep you cool when spending time outside. Covering both your arms and legs will help to prevent harmful sun exposure while allowing air flow to the skin as you move.

Choose Your Daylight Hours Wisely
The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, meaning that your time spent outdoors during these hours can be especially harmful. If you plan to spend longer periods of time outside, choose early morning or later in the afternoon or evening, and if you must head outside during midday hours, cover up, apply sunscreen and limit your time in direct sunlight.

Seek Shade
Whenever possible, seek shade on summer walks or time spent outdoors. Take your daily morning stroll to the shady trails at First Landing State Park on especially bright days, or choose to sit outside and breathe in fresh air under the gazebo or on a shady bench, out of the sun. Shade will help you to stay cool and will help to prevent you from direct sun exposure, but it won’t protect you from the sun’s rays completely. Even in the shade, it’s important to cover up and apply sunscreen appropriately.