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UV alert during peak summer months?

The UV index and what it means for your holiday

What's the UV-Index?

The UV index measures the expected peak value of a day for UV irradiation. Like the Richter scale for earthquakes, the scale is open at the top. The higher the value, the greater the risk of skin damage, sunburn and long-term skin cancer. The World Health Organisation has defined the UV index. This makes it a globally valid and uniform guideline.

In Germany, the UV index varies with the seasons. While peak values of up to 9 are measured in summer, and even up to 11 at high altitudes, it is harmless at 1 to 2 in winter. In the countries around the equator, on the other hand, it is permanently high due to the lack of major differences in the seasons. The world record comes from the Bolivian Andes with a UV index of 43.3.


What does the UV index mean?

Dermatologists and radiation researchers recommend sun protection from a UV index of 3, and even warn people to stay in the sun from 7. The German Weather Service (DWD) issues a UV warning for days with particularly high UV levels. If you wish, you can subscribe to this warning for your place of residence by newsletter. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection has published the following table on exposure and measures:

UV-Index   Exposure Protective measures
1 – 2  low  no protective measures required..
3 – 5 medium Protection required: seek shade during midday hours wear appropriate clothing, hat and sunglasses for uncovered skin use sunscreen with sufficient sun protection factor.
6 – 7 and higher  high Protection absolutely necessary: If possible, do not stay outside during midday! Always seek shade! Appropriate clothing, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with sufficient sun protection factor are urgently needed.



What is the UV index worldwide?

The above table helps during the holiday season, but the German Weather Service is of little help when travelling abroad. Therefore, here is a list of popular holiday destinations with the average peak values for the UV index in the respective summer:

 Berlin  7
 Zugspitze  10
 Baltic Sea/North Sea  7
 New York   9
 Majorca  9
 Greece  10
 Italy (south)  10
 Los Angeles  10
 Cuba  12
 Thailand  12
 Maldives  13 
 Australia  13
 South Africa  10

In general, the closer you are to the equator and the higher you are in the mountains, the higher the UV index. And don't forget: UV rays are reflected in and around water and are therefore up to 90 percent higher than the value measured inland. (Read more in our blog about reflection at the water).

Many holidaymakers make a typical mistake again and again: as soon as clouds appear, they plunge into the water or hike up the mountains. But the UV index drops only minimally with light cloud cover. Even in the shade under a dense tree, values of around 50% of UV rays have been found. The result is irreparable damage to the skin cells, which store these health impairments on their own skin cancer account for a lifetime and in the worst case react with skin cancer.

In short: if you are planning a summer holiday, you will not be able to avoid sun protection except in the northernmost countries such as Iceland, northern Scandinavia, northern Scotland or Alaska. Therefore, get summer clothing with certified UV protection in good time, preferably made of recycled synthetic fibres (no cotton, no linen and no silk) and sun cream without plastic packaging and without environmentally harmful ingredients. Then nothing will stand in the way of holiday fun.




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