Set up shady areas in your backyard to find relief from the sun.

Warmer weather means spending more time under the sun’s rays. At this time of year, it’s especially important to keep yourself and your family safe by practicing proper sun protection. The sun’s ultraviolet rays have the power to damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, you can still have fun outdoors without fear of too much sun exposure if you plan ahead.

Add Shade to Your Landscaping

If you’re planning backyard barbecues, days by the pool, or perhaps a little yard work, you’ll want to have some escape from the sun. There are many ways to incorporate shade into your yard. Planting trees is a long-term investment, but it’ll pay off in additional shade as well as providing many other benefits (such as homes for birds and other animals). You might also decide to install a trellis or pergola: Covered with vines, these make for beautiful shade-providers.

Avoid the Strongest Sun of the Day

To help keep your skin protected from UV damage, avoid the sun when its rays are the strongest. The sun’s rays are typically at their most intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must go outside during these hours, take the proper precautions to protect your skin. Start by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors. If possible, protect your skin and eyes with clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.

Set Up Shade Sources

Anything that creates a barrier between you and the sun can help protect your skin. Set up shade sources in your backyard that will allow you to enjoy the warm weather out of the sun. An awning installed over your deck or patio can help provide shade by blocking out the sun’s harmful rays. You might also want to try a portable solution like a canopy tent or patio umbrella.

Always Apply Sunscreen Before Going Outdoors

Wearing sunscreen is important for all skin types and should be an essential part of your daily skincare routine. While many people only wear sunscreen during the summer months, it should be a year-round preventive measure to keep your skin healthy. When shopping for sunscreen, make sure that the product you choose has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Higher SPF numbers mean more protection for your skin.

If you plan on spending the day outdoors, you’ll want to reapply your sunscreen on a regular basis based on the SPF level. If you normally start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun and use an SPF 30 sunscreen, you will be protected for 30 times longer, or 300 minutes. However, most experts recommend reapplying sunscreen every one to two hours to be on the safe side.

Hydrate Regularly

Keeping cold drinks nearby when spending time outdoors will not only keep you cool and comfortable, but can also prevent heat-related illnesses. This is especially true for children and the elderly. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water – sip frequently and often to stay hydrated. Take special care when drinking beverages that contain sugar or alcohol, which can dehydrate you more quickly.

Practice Safe Sun Habits Even When It’s Cloudy

Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you’re safe from damaging UV rays. Approximately 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays are able to pass through the clouds. Sometimes, UV rays can even reflect off of a cloud’s edge, which intensifies the rays. Even on overcast days, be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen before venturing outdoors.