Staying Safe in the Sun

Sunrise over a farm field

Kate Homonai, OSU Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Vinton County

Do you ever stop to think about how amazing the sun is? It is a star that is tens of millions of miles away from earth, yet provides just the right amount of heat and light to support life on our planet. The sun plays an important role in the hydrological cycle that provides us with water and the process of photosynthesis that enables our crops to grow properly.

Sunshine is critical for farm life, but like anything else, too much of a good thing could also be a bad thing. For example, working outside and exposing your skin to the sun can lead to damage like tans or sunburns. That damage can increase our risk of developing skin cancer. Farmers and other individuals who work outdoors are more likely to experience skin cancer than the general population due simply to the nature of their work.

While that is a grim fact, there are steps we can take to protect our skin while we go about our daily tasks:

  • Check the local UV index here , including on cloudy days. When the UV forecast is 3 or higher, be sure to apply sunscreen before heading out to work. 
  • Apply sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher before heading out for the day, then reapply every 2 hours while you’re out in the sun. You may need to reapply sunscreen more often if you’re sweating heavily or frequently wiping off sweat. 
  • Wear a widebrimmed hat (the brim should be 3” or more) to protect your ears, temples, and the back of your neck. Baseball caps do not protect these areas. If you prefer to wear a baseball cap (or even no cap), protect these sensitive areas with sunscreen.
  • When possible, plan to work in the shade or indoors when UV rays are strongest, which is typically between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

These simple steps take only a few minutes of our time, but go a long way in protecting our skin while we work outside beneath our amazing sun. 

Kate Homonai, FCS Educator Vinton County, can be reached at 740-596-5212 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.