Pictured from left to right: Mike Porpiglia of the American Cancer Society, Shelly Wells of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, residents Chloe and Glen Hurrell, City of Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, and Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan.
DUNKIRK, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan recently visited Wright Park Beach in Dunkirk to announce sun safety tips as part of his 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign.
“Chautauqua County is a beautiful place to explore during the summer months as it provides many recreational opportunities for residents and visitors,” said Horrigan. “Whether you are boating, hiking, attending a festival, or just relaxing in the sun, I urge individuals to take precautions to protect their skin when they are outdoors.”
“It is important to let everyone know about the danger of staying out in the sun too long,” said City of Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas. “I commend Vince for bringing this important issue to our residents so they know how to properly protect themselves.”
The sun produces ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause skin damage. Skin that is left unprotected or repeatedly exposed to the sun can lead to sunburn, skin aging, eye damage and even skin cancer. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common of all types of cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed each year with basal and squamous cell skin cancers. These types of skin cancer are very common and are usually very treatable.
Another form of skin cancer is melanoma. Although melanoma is less common, it causes a majority of skin cancer deaths. For 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates that 87,110 people will be diagnosed with melanoma and about 9,730 will die from it.
“Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure,” said Mike Porpiglia, Relay For Life Manager, Centralized Support, American Cancer Society, Inc. “If you are going to be in the sun, just remember “Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap” for the key steps in protecting yourself from UV rays: slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, slap on a hat, wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them. Much more information is available at cancer.org/sunsafety.”
To prevent overexposure to UV radiation, individuals can protect themselves and their families by:
- Limiting sun exposure—The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors. If possible, avoid outdoor activities during this time period. If it is necessary to be outside during these hours, individuals should be sure to seek shade and utilize other sun safety tips.
- Avoiding burning and indoor tanning—Whether tanning or burning, individuals are exposing themselves to harmful UV rays that damage their skin. A tan is evidence that UV rays have damaged the skin and every time individuals tan they are increasing their risk of melanoma.
- Seeking shade—While outdoors, individuals can protect their skin by seeking shade under a tree, umbrella, or covered porch.
- Wearing sun-protective clothing—Individuals can protect their eyes and skin by wearing sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts, pants or long skirts, and a wide-brim hat that shades their face, head, ears and neck.
- Generously applying and re-applying sunscreen—Be sure to use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. It is also important that individuals take sunscreen with them and reapply it during the day, especially after swimming or exercising.
- Using extra caution near water, snow and sand—These types of surfaces can reflect UV rays and increase an individual’s exposure to it.
- Getting vitamin D safely—Instead of soaking up the sun, individuals can get vitamin D through their diet or dietary supplements. Food sources of vitamin D include some types of fish, dairy products, egg yolks and foods with added vitamin D such as some cereals.
“You need sun protection every day, not just when you are at the beach, by the pool, or on the lake. UV rays reach the ground all year - even on cloudy or hazy days, even when temperatures are not high,” said Shelly Wells, Public Health Planner with the Chautauqua County Department of Health.
Individuals with lighter-toned skin are more susceptible to UV damage, although people of all races and ethnicities can be at risk for skin cancer. Individuals may also have a higher risk of developing skin cancer if they have a family or personal history of skin cancer, are exposed to the sun through work or play, or have a history of indoor tanning.
A sign of skin cancer could be a change in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. A simple way to remember the possible signs of melanoma is to remember the ABCDEs of melanoma:
- “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape?
- “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
- “C” is for color. Is the color uneven or in different shades?
- “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed in size, shape or color during the past few weeks or months?
If a mole or spot on your skin exhibits any of these characteristics or if you are unsure about a mole, be sure to discuss it with your doctor.
“I am a skin cancer survivor,” said Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Director of Health and Human Services. “Fortunately, the lesion that wouldn’t heal below my eye in 2008 turned out to be basil cell carcinoma and was completely removed with surgery. Sunscreen wasn’t something that I knew of growing up, and I had some significant sunburns. Now I don’t leave the house without sunscreen on and have a nice hat collection. Please protect yourself and those you care about from sun exposure and skin cancer!”
The 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign was announced by Horrigan in May and it challenges residents to practice safety from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. During the months of June, July, and August, he will partner with county officials to raise awareness about important safety tips and precautions for residents and visitors to take while they enjoy family vacations and recreational activities this summer.
“By making safety a top priority this summer, residents can help do their part in preventing tragedies such as automobile, motorcycle, bicycle or boating accidents,” said Horrigan. “Residents are encouraged to make it their mission to be responsible, be aware of their surroundings, address safety issues and educate others on practicing safety. By stressing safety during these summer months, it is my hope that residents will get into the habit of making safety their number one priority and continue to practice safety all year long.”