In California, we’re fortunate to have sunshine year round, but that also means we have to be more careful than other places to prevent sun damage, even when at home. While many of us are good about sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas when venturing out to the beach or hiking, but knowing where UV rays still can affect us when we’re at home and taking precautions? We’re not as great. It’s important to prevent sun damage to yourself and your furniture, art, rugs, and home and know how to do so!
Understanding the UV Index
UV, or ultraviolet rays, are mainly from the sun, though we created sun lamps and tanning beds that utilize them too. The two main types are UVA and UVB. Both types can cause skin cancer, so there is no such thing as a safe UV ray.
The UV Index was developed by the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to give a number (1-11+) that tells you how strong the UV light is in any area. Your weather app likely is able to give you this information. Clouds, season, and reflections off surfaces matter too, and between 10am to 4pm, those rays are the highest.
Here in LA, we run an average index of 9 in July, 9-10 in August, and 8 in September, so it’s important living here to take UV ray exposure pretty seriously. 8+ is considered “Very High to Extreme” risk where extra protection is needed. Between 2011-2015, there were 6,800 new cases of skin melanomas in Los Angeles County alone, and 836 deaths. That equals about 13.5 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people.
Preventing Sun Damage & UV Exposure Indoors
Simply being indoors doesn’t mean you’re protected! In fact, while some windows don’t filter UV rays at all, many that do only filter out UVB rays, leaving UVA rays still streaming straight into your home. Not only is this not healthy for your skin, but your artwork, furniture, and rugs that are exposed to sunlight regularly can not only be weakened, damaged, or lose color from sun exposure, so protect your investments while protecting yourself!
Block UV Rays From Entering Your Home From the Inside
This is an area where we excel! When it comes to covering interior windows, you have a practically endless selection of options available. Whether you love fabrics, clean lines from shades, or any combination, we’ve got you covered (literally and figuratively)!
There are many different fabrics than can block UV rays. In fact, there is a specific Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) for fabric that tells you exactly how good it is at blocking those rays. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98% of the sun’s rays.
Small note: UPF covers both UVA and UVB rays, while SPF ratings (Sun Protection Factor) only measures UVB.
Colors, construction of the weave, thickness of the fabric, treatments, and backing all play a factor, so if your windows are in direct sunlight, our design consultants will help you select a fabric with a high UPF rating.
Solar shades take this up a notch by being specifically designed to block UV rays, which also has the added benefit of preventing heat gain through your windows. That means less warmth from the sun as well, so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard.
One of the best things about modern home technology is that you can actually program just about everything we’re talking about here to handle this for you. If your window coverings are motorized, you can take advantage of programs and apps in order to manually close your window coverings when the sun hits those windows directly. You don’t even have to be home or remember to do it, which makes this solution pretty great.
Block UV Rays From Entering Your Home From the Outside
If you already have window coverings you love, there are also options to block the sun from the outside! Similar to solar shades, we also have shades that can go on the outside of the windows! Some are even solar-powered so you use the sun’s own power to close off your windows to prevent sun damage to things inside.
Attached awnings are also an amazing solution for this. If you have large windows or even doors that look out onto your patio or deck but also get lots of sun, these can be great solutions. Our awnings all have fabric that blocks 99% of UV rays – both types – so whether you’re inside or out on that patio, you’ve already taken a huge step towards preventing UV exposure.
Rather than explain how this works, check out this video from our CEO Rick who uses his Amazon Alexa to open his outdoor awning to block sunlight from coming into his kitchen:
Prevent Sun Damage from UV Rays in Your Yard
If you’re outside in your yard, poolside or otherwise, you have multiple options. Wear sunscreen, of course. Know that if you’re by the pool, reflected UV rays are a big deal too, and you need to take that into account.
Wear sunscreen, consider UPF rated clothing and swimsuits, wear hats with large brims and sunglasses, and if you spend a lot of time in one spot, you can also install a free-standing awning in order to provide sun protection and shade where you need it most.
If you need help blocking sunlight from entering your home, schedule a free consultation with our design consultants, and we’ll help you protect yourself and your home!