Is It Easy to Get a Sunburn in Belize?
Endless sunshine is one of the chief attractions of Belize, but be careful before you dive in. The Caribbean sunshine is probably a lot stronger than the sun you’re used to getting. Here are some tips to help you stay safe from sunburn while you’re here.
Understand UV Rays
There are three types of ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. UVC rays rarely reach the earth. UVB rays are the strongest and cause the most sunburns. UVA is weaker, but it can still cause problems. UVA and UVB combined cause most skin cancers, cataracts and other sun-related damage.
Why Is the Sun So Strong Here?
The explanation is in the ozone layer. The earth’s ozone layer protects you from the sun’s rays. In northern regions or on overcast days, the ozone is thicker. In warmer regions of the world, the ozone layer is very thin. You have very little protection from the sun, and it’s important to cover up and wear sunscreen.
Clothing Can Help
Next to sunscreen, clothing offers the best protection against the sun’s damaging rays. A wide-brimmed hat is a necessity when you’re walking around outdoors.
Double layers of fabric can help. Choose lightweight fabrics to stay cool. If you’re going to be outside for a long time, wearing lightweight layers can help you avoid the worst of the sun’s damage.
Stay Safe Outdoors
*Always wear a hat when you’re outside.
*Remember, the sun is strongest between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
*If you’re going swimming or scuba diving, consider wearing a wetsuit.
*Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go outside. Reapply it every two hours.
*If your skin is burning, get inside or under some shade immediately.
Choose the Right Sunscreen
Besides a high SPF, what else should you look for in a sunscreen? Conservationists in Belize strongly urge people to use reef-safe sunscreen. Certain ingredients in chemical sunscreens cause bleaching, pitting and other damage to ocean reefs. The Belize Barrier Reef and its surrounding marine reserves are at risk from these chemicals.
Hawaii has banned the sale of sunscreens that contain reef-damaging ingredients. So have Aruba, Bonaire Island, Palau and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
* Look for reef-safe sunscreens that don’t contain oxybenzone, octinoxate or octocrylene.
* Use sunscreens marked “non-nano” or “mineral-based.”
Stay Safe in the Sun
Don’t let sunburn ruin your Belize vacation. Use sunscreen, cover up, and enjoy the best of our beautiful country.