With the summer starting to heat up, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) are offering tips to keep people safe from the potential dangers of overexposure.

To help educate the public on skin cancer awareness, the ADHS implements the SunWise Program, created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program is mandated to be included in public and charter school instruction for kindergarten through eighth grade and teaches students, among other things, that the sun's rays are at their harshest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

SunWise curriculum reminds students that when going out during these times, they should apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher at least 15 minutes before and reapplying at least every 2.5 hours if engaging in swimming or sweating from outdoor activities.

According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common form of all the cancers and in 2007, the latest data available, a reported 58,094 people were diagnosed melanomas of the skin and 8,461 died due to related effects.

The ADHS reports that Arizona has the second highest rate of skin cancer incidents in the world (Australia is No. 1) and that the majority of a person's exposure to sun will occur by the time a person turns 18.

The daily UV index, which measures the risk of overexposure to the sun, can be checked online by visiting www.AZDHS.gov/phs/sunwise, and more caution should be taken depending on the magnitude. Arizona had a UV index of 11 on June 4, representing an extreme exposure level.

In addition to sunscreen, sunglasses that block at least 90 percent of UVA and UVB rays should be worn during the harsh times of the day. To find out more, visit the CDC website at www.CDC.gov/cancer/skin.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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