Gail Bayless took her two sons and two nephews for some swimming time at the Marietta Aquatic Center Tuesday but before they jumped in the water they had to put on sunscreen.
Bayless, of Marietta, said it's a rule she doesn't allow them to bend.
"We even make them get out after they've been in an hour or two to dry off and put it on again," she said.
Medical experts say now that the official start of summer is nearly here it's extremely important that people take steps to protect their skin when they're swimming, boating or doing other activities outside.
Dr. M.K. Shah, medical director of the Strecker Cancer Center at Marietta Memorial Hospital, said if a person is going to be in the sun, it should be in the mornings.
"The main thing is to try to avoid direct sun exposure mostly in the afternoons between 12 and 4," he said. "The morning sun doesn't have as strong ultraviolet (UV) radiation as compared to the afternoon sun."
Summer skin protection tips:
Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
Avoid indoor tanning.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency there are a number of factors that impact the level of UV radiation reaching the earth's surface, including not only time of day but also weather conditions and reflective surfaces like water and pavement.
Shah said regardless of whether a person is outside in the morning or afternoon, it's important that they wear clothing that will cover up their skin and apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
He said sunscreen should be at least SPF (sun protective factor) 15. The sun protective factor reveals the relative amount of sunburn protection that a sunscreen provide an average user when correctly used, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sunscreen with SPF 15, for example, protects the skin from 93 percent of UVB radiation while SPF 30 sunscreen provides 97 percent protection.
"Every two to three hours that needs to be reapplied," Shah said.
The American Academy of Dermatology indicates one ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass, is the amount needed to cover exposed areas of the body, but that amount should be adjusted depending on body size.
The academy also recommends the use of water resistant sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, which protects against UVA and UVB rays.
Shah added that even those who have skin that tans should protect themselves because the sun's rays can harm them, too.
"People with fair skin, are freckled or red haired are at a high risk of developing skin malignancy like anybody else but maybe a little more," he noted.
Shah said those who expose their skin to the sun too much over a period of many years are susceptible to common forms of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, which are both non melanoma skin cancers that he said can usually be treated with surgery.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
"Melanoma is difficult to treat unless it's diagnosed in an early stage," he added.
Shah said people should follow the ABCD rule when determining if a mole is a sign of melanoma. The letter A stands for asymmetry, meaning one half is different than the other half. The letter B stands for border irregularity and the letter C stands for uneven color. The letter D stands for diameter, with a mole bigger than six millimeters possibly being melanoma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 59,695 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin and 8,623 of those died. Those are the most recent statistics available.
Shah pointed out that even if a person does not get skin cancer from too much sun exposure, it does have other negative, long term effects on the skin.
"It can cause other benign skin problems," he said. "It can be dry or become wrinkly."