Sun in the mountains

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It is almost already winter (especially in the mountains in Switzerland) but the sun still shines bright. Actually we were lucky with the weather in autumn - we had so many sunny weekends to go hiking! But sun related problems can occur in the snowy mountains, too. In high mountains the overexposure to the ultraviolet waves (UVA and UVB) of the sun is great. The dangers can be sunburn, overheating and eye damage.

UVB radiation from the sun can cause burns to the skin, just as boiling water. UVA radiation penetrates even deeper into the layers of the skin and causes ageing of the skin and increases the chance of skin cancer.

UV radiation is strongest when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. Depending on your distance from the equator and what time zone you are in, this is between 11.00-15.00.


Other factors which increase the strength of this radiation are:

Thickness of the ozone layer (the more radiation can penetrate)

Altitude (for every 300 meters of elevation above sea level, the intensity of the UV radiation increases by 4%).


Using of a high factor sun cream (at least 2mg cream per 1 cm2), at least SPF30. Sun cream should be applied at least 20 minutes before the first sun exposure, ideally replied 15-30 minutes later and reapplied every 2 hours (especially after sweating, rubbing or swimming).

Wearing protective clothing. Hat or in winter the protective helmet is a must. Staying long during exposure of the sun we should wear long sleeved and legged clothing. The back of the neck and collar area needs to be protected in all seasons by a snood, scarf or so-called headbanz.


Sunglasses and in winter the ski googles are essential to protect the eye from sunlight. Fresh snow can reflect up to 80% of the UV radiation. Experts recommend wearing sunglasses with a label of UV400 or at the least with EC mark (which gives 95% protection from radiation up to 380 nm). Choose sunglasses and googles that have large lenses and side protection.

Source: First Aid Course of HealthFirst

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