What is UV index today? What it means, what SPF you should wear and other ways to protect yourself in the sun
As well as the temperature, the Met Office also regularly reports on the UV levels across the country
and live on Freeview channel 276
The UK has been basking in warm weather in recent days, and there is even a suggestion that the government may soon announce the first ever national heatwave emergency.
The heatwave looks set to continue, and it has been reported that Sunday 17 July will be the hottest day the UK has ever seen.
As well as the temperature, the Met Office also regularly reports on the UV levels across the country in its UV index.
But, just what is the UV index, and how can you best protect yourself in the sun?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the UV index?
The UV index forecast comes from the Met Office and identifies the strength of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
It details what the UV levels will be throughout the country on any particular day, allowing you to take the necessary precautions to help reduce the impact of UV on your health.
The strength of UV varies depending on where you are in the world, the time of year and also a number of different weather factors such as the amount of cloud cover.
In the UK the forecast is particularly important during the summer months. Late June is classed as the peak UV time in the UK, however this is dependent on weather conditions.
Temperatures are expected to hit around 35C by mid-July, so the UV peak may not have been reached yet this year.
There are five UV ratings that are possible on the index: no risk, low, moderate, high, very high and extreme.
What is the UV index today?
The UV index for today depends on where in the UK you live.
In the following areas, the UV level has been rated as low:
- Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Newton, Powys
This means you can safely stay outside all throughout the day.
In all other areas of the UK, the UV level has been rated as moderate. This means that, according to health advice given by the Met Office, you should cover up, wear sun cream and seek shade during midday hours.
To check the UV index rating in your area, you can check the official Met Office website.
What SPF should I be wearing, and how does it impact tanning?
Small amounts of UV exposure can be beneficial as it is essential in the production of vitamin D, however over exposure of UV can lead to short term serious health issues, such as sunburn, and also much more serious health problems, such as skin cancer.
You are at risk from UV damage every time you are out in the sun, and to help protect yourself when you are out in the sun you should wear an SPF sun cream.
SPF is short for sun protection factor. In sunscreen, SPF helps to block your skin from the sun’s radiation and works by extending your skin’s natural defences against the sun’s rays.
An SPF of 15, for example, provides about 15 times more protection than you have without sunscreen. An SPF of 50 would therefore provide 50 times more protection than skin without sunscreen.
You should wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to adequately protect yourself, according to the NHS.
You can still tan while wearing sunscreen. It will be lighter than if you were not wearing sunscreen at all, but it is more important to protect yourself from potentially harmful UV rays.
How can I protect myself in the sun?
There are several ways you can protect yourself in the sun:
- Always wear sunscreen. Apply it on your skin every day, and reapply at least every two hours. Be aware that sun cream can be rubbed off or washed off, so you’ll need to reapply it more often if you go in a pool, for example. You should also always wear sun cream, even on days that don’t appear to be as bright and sunny. The UV rays can still come through the clouds.
- Avoid sun in the middle of the day, from about 10am to 3pm. The ultraviolet rays are strongest during this time. During these times, it’s best advised to either stay indoors or seek shade.
- Wear protective clothing such as a hat.
- Wear sunglasses that filter UV light to protect your eyes.