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Summer brings many activities that people love. Going to the beach, backyard cookouts, outdoor concerts, 5Ks, and more. What do these things have in common? Lots of sun. We’ll show you how to use tech to avoid the dreaded sunburns.

Of course, the sun isn’t only damaging in the summer. You can still get a sunburn in the dead of winter. There are a few key things to watch for and tech you can use to help to make sure your time in the sun isn’t regretted the next day.

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Check the UV Index

The thing that makes the sun dangerous is ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Yes, the sun gives off radiation—a sunburn is essentially a radiation burn. Doesn’t sound quite so harmless, does it?

We measure UV radiation with the “Ultraviolet Index”—a.k.a. “UV Index.” This is the most important thing to check when trying to gauge the harshness of the sun. The higher the number on the index, the quicker you’ll burn.

You can easily check the UV index at any given time in most weather apps. Apple’s Weather app for the iPhone and iPad includes the UV Index. Just scroll down to the “UV Index” card.

Also, if you’re an Apple Watch owner, the “Infographic” watch face shows the UV Index as well. You can add this complication to other watch faces as well.

Infographic watch face on the Apple Watch.
Apple

For Android users, there’s a handy weather web app built into Google Search. Simply open the Google app and search for “weather.” The result will be for your location, and you can expand the result to see the UV Index.

Google app UV Index.

The vast majority of weather apps include information about the UV Index. The popular Weather Channel app for iPhoneiPad, and Android devices, for example, includes the UV Index in its “Today’s Details” section and in the hourly forecast.

RELATED: How to Check the UV Index

Use Apps to Avoid Sunburns

The UV Index is a very important thing to check, but it doesn’t tell you everything. How long can you stay in the sun with sunscreen on? What if you have really pale skin, how long should you stay in the sun?

You can answer these questions with a useful app for iPhoneiPad, and Android called “UVLens.” The UV Index is displayed, of course, but the “My Skin” tab is where things get really cool. Enter your eye color, skin color, and hair color and it will tell you how long before you start getting a sunburn.

Skin information in UVLens.

Tap the sunscreen bottle and you can see how long you’ll last with protection, and even get reminders to re-apply. This is a very handy app to make sure you’re not overdoing it in the sun.

Gadgets to Measure UV Exposure

SunFriend UV Band
SunFriend

If apps aren’t your thing, there are other ways to check the UV Index and limit your exposure. SunFriend is a brand that makes UV monitor bracelets. The affordable, battery-powered bracelet is designed to help people get some Vitamin D from the sun without burning.

First, you turn on the bracelet and dial in your skin sensitivity on a scale of one to 11, with one being the palest. At the center of the bracelet is a Gallium Nitride photodiode sensor. This is what detects UV radiation.

You can press the “UVA+B” button at any time to see how close you are to your limit—indicated by progress around the ring of lights. When the lights flash, you’ve had enough sun. Also, for a quick UV Index check, you can hold the bracelet up to the sun for 10 seconds and then press the “UVI” button.

SunFriend Personal UV Monitor

The SunFriend UV Monitor is a bracelet that allows you yo enter your skin type and be alerted when you've had enough UV exposure.


You probably noticed a common theme in all of these tips—avoid extended exposure to UV radiation. Everybody wants to be in the sun as much as possible, but that’s not a risk-free endeavor. Take a little time to check the UV Index first and you’ll have a much more enjoyable summer.

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Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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