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Sun Safety: Choosing Hats and Sunglasses

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Sunglasses Garden Safety Shades Sunhat

We are all more and more aware of the dangers posed by over-exposure to the sun. Hats and sunglasses can protect you from the major problems, damage to the eyes and heatstroke from literally over-heating.

Sunhat Choices

If you're really stuck then grabbing any hat will do. That will be better than going out bare-headed to garden in the height of a summer's day. But a wide brimmed sunhat with a well ventilated crown is the best option. Ventilation allows the scalp to breathe and stay cool.

Ladies' sunhats are available in a huge variety of materials and styles from classic straw or raffia hats to brightly coloured and crushable stretchy nylon hats with SPF50+ ratings. Remember that light colours will reflect the sun while darker ones will absorb it and warm up.

Sunhat Choice for Men

Men can choose from wide-brimmed panama-style hats as well as classic straw or raffia designs. There are also plenty of pseudo-military floppy hats, sometimes called 'bucket' hats, in khaki or camouflage colours. These are handy if the sun is going in and out, as they can be rolled up and stuffed in a back pocket.

If you think you will be bending over in the garden, digging for example, even the widest brim won't keep the sun off your neck and shoulders as you bend over. Look for a legionnaire-style hat with a cloth flap that drops down over the neck and shoulders, or tack a suitably sized cloth to an old hat as a temporary measure.

Baseball caps are best avoided for gardening unless you only want to shade your eyes, they afford little protection otherwise.

Sunglasses for UV Protection

Sunglasses have an impact on garden safety, protecting the eyes from the potentially harmful effects of ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun. Beware of cheap models which do not have proper filters to protect from UV light. Buy polarised sunglasses if you can stretch the budget because these cut down on glare and reflected light.

People who wear prescription glasses can buy sunglasses with prescription lenses, but it may seem an unnecessary expense. If you're wearing them in the garden they are more likely to get knocked off, broken or damaged, so the cost is even higher.

Clip-ons and Over Sunglasses

Fortunately there are other options like clip-on lenses. These are pairs of tinted lenses which clip-onto the frame of your prescription glasses. They either clip straight onto the frame or have a hinge built into the clip for lifting up and down as required.

Over sunglasses are large all-enveloping plastic sunglasses which fit over existing spectacles. These have been around for a while but were very big and odd-looking. But recently smaller, lighter and more normal-looking models have been coming onto the market. An added benefit is that these usually have tinted plastic side-pieces so they offer protection from UV at the side as well as the front.

If you don't like wearing hats or sunglasses a sun-shade might suit. This is a tinted peak or visor which straps around your head, leaving your crown uncovered.

Keep Sun Safety in Perspective

Regardless of the solution you adopt, try to keep garden sun safety in perspective. There is a school of thought that sunglasses encourage your pupils to dilate, allowing more harmful rays in, so we might be better off using shade instead. There are also reports that the incidence of rickets is on the increase in our schools. Children are being so protected from the sun that they aren't getting enough vitamin D to fully strengthen their bones.

No-one should be hiding from the sun completely and there's no need to panic if you're caught out in the garden for a few minutes when the sun pokes unexpectedly out from the clouds. Make sure you enjoy your garden in safety.

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