What does a high UV index mean for us?

As the weather gets warmer more people will be venturing to the beach. Credit: PA Images

With sunshine and brightness beginning to re-emerge across the Channel Islands, what does it mean for our skin and how can we protect ourselves from getting sun burnt?

The Channel Islands often experiences higher than normal UV levels in April and May. The ozone is thinning in places and when pockets of low ozone move across the area the UV goes up.

Cancer Research UK say: "There is a balance to be struck when spending time in the sun. Sunlight helps us produce vitamin D, but too much can cause skin cancer. This balance is different for each person and depends on your skin type, the time of day or year and where you are in the world."

In fact, with a balance of vitamin D found in food, one study suggests people with lighter toned skin may actually only need around nine minutes in sunshine at lunchtime each day, in shorts and t-shirt, whereas darker tones may require 25 minutes.

There are certainly risks from UV rays, so it is important to know what it means to you.

The UV index forecast identifies the strength of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun on a particular day. As the ozone thins, there is a higher chance than normal of getting sunburnt in prolonged spells of sunshine.

What are the main steps I can take to protect myself?

  • Spending time in the shade - Especially between 11am and 3pm

  • Covering up - With clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and UV protected sunglasses

  • Using sunscreen - With at least SPF15 and topping up generously throughout the day

The main factors affecting the strength of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface are:

  • The time of year

  • The latitude

  • The amount of cloud, dust and pollution in the atmosphere

  • The amount of ozone gas in the stratosphere

UV index and the amount of protection required. Credit: ITV Granada

Jersey Met forecast the UV each day.

How likely will you burn dependent on your skin colour. Credit: Jersey Met

The UV index will rise to its highest in the Channel Islands of eight, and as the diagram shows below, islanders should be aware of the consequences of having no sun protection.

As the UV increases, the risk of burning increases to very high. Credit: Jersey Met Office

The UV index of nine and 10 are common in the Mediterranean area.

What the risk means to you. Credit: Jersey Met

For more information about sun and vitamin D, Cancer Research UK can provide details.