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Preventing Sunburn

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Repeated sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer, and that’s why it’s so important to protect your skin. To prevent sunburn, wear these:

  • Sunscreen. Be sure your sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or higher and provides both UVA and UVB protection. Reapply every two hours when you are in the sun, and more often if you’re sweating or getting in and out of the water.
  • Hat. Choose a hat made of a tightly woven fabric, which protects better than straw or mesh. Make sure it has a brim that goes all the way around the hat.
  • Clothing. Tightly woven cloth in darker colors provides the best protection.
  • Sunglasses. The sun can hurt your eyes, too. Wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection now may help prevent cataracts later in life.

Use common sense. Shade may provide some protection from sunburn, but you should still protect your skin even when in the shade. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.

First Aid for Sunburn

While sunburn may lead to cancer later, it can be painful now. Here are some tips to relieve the burn:

  • Take ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or moisturizing cream three times a day to help with swelling and pain. This can also help if sunburn starts to itch later.
  • If blisters break, trim off the dead skin with scissors and apply an antibiotic ointment. Don't intentionally break the blisters.
  • Take cool baths or apply cool, wet compresses several times daily. Adding 2 ounces of baking soda to a tub full of cool water may also help.
  • Do not apply petroleum jelly, butter, or ointments to sunburn.

Surviving House Fires

While sunburn, scalds, and burns are painful, house fires can be deadly.The United States has one of the highest fire death rates per capita in the industrialized world.

Here's how you can help protect your family in this potentially deadly situation.

  • Have a smoke alarm. If you don’t have smoke alarms, get them. Advanced warning of fire gives you and your family precious moments to escape from a burning home. Approximately 4 out of 10 home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms. Smoke alarms range in price from $6 to $20, and many fire departments offer them for free or at a reduced price.
  • Make sure alarms work. If you have smoke alarms, be sure they are working properly. It’s a good idea to check your smoke alarms at least twice a year. An easy reminder is to test your smoke detectors and replace the batteries each year when daylight saving time begins and ends.
  • Have fire extinguishers on hand. For small home fires, a fire extinguisher may prevent damage and injury. However, fire extinguishers should only be used by adults. A good home fire extinguisher should be labeled “ABC.” This means it is appropriate for use on all types of fires. Store your fire extinguisher near an exit and out of reach of children. Before you attempt to use a fire extinguisher, assess the fire. If it is spreading or is to large, leave the building immediately and call 911.
  • Make an escape plan. A fire can double in size in less than 30 seconds, and a room may be completely engulfed in flames very quickly. Once a fire starts, it’s too late to plan. Making a plan before there's a fire can save lives. Your escape plan should include:
    • Two ways to escape every room in your home. Draw a floor plan of your home and go over it with all family members.
    • A place outside of your home to meet in the event of a fire. Choose a place nearby where your family can plan to gather.
    • Have fire drills at home. Practicing your plan could save lives. Practice crawling out of the house with your eyes closed. During a fire, the smoke can make it very hard to see, and staying low may keep you from breathing more smoke and hot gasses.

With a little planning and care, you can keep yourself and those you love safe from the danger and pain of fire and accidental burns.