Summer may be the time for family fun in the sun, but it's also essential to be aware of how all that sun exposure affects our health. This is not always so easy because after a long winter, most of us can't get enough of the great outdoors. Plus, with the warmer weather, we are more than happy to trade in our sweaters and pants for a t-shirt and shorts and be on our way.

However, as nice as it is to forsake all those winter layers, summer attire means that our skin is more exposed. While many of us may like the healthy glow of a suntan, it is important to keep in mind that prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) radiation can have a detrimental effect on our skin, and ultimately, our health. July is UV Safety Month and a good time to remind yourself and your family of what steps we should all take to protect ourselves from excessive UV exposure that can lead to skin cancer.

Skin cancer affects nearly two million Americans every year, and one in five people in this country will contract some form over their lifetime. In most cases, it is treatable and not-life threatening, though in rare instances a person can develop melanoma, which is a much more serious form of the disease.

This season, protect your skin to ensure a happy and healthy summer. Here are some ways to accomplish this.

1. Know Your Skin

Different skin types can handle UV exposure in different amounts, so know your skin and act accordingly. Fair skin or skin with freckles burns more easily. People with blond or red hair should be cautious, as should anyone with a family history of skin cancer or melanoma.

2. Keep Newborns Out of the Sun

The American Pediatric Association recommends that for the first six months of their lives, newborns should be kept out of the sun. After six months, make sure to cover them with protective clothing and apply sunscreen to exposed skin.

3. Shade Your Eyes

UV light is harmful to our eyes and can affect our vision and lead to cataracts over time, so shield them with a hat or a pair of sunglasses. Not only will it ease the strain and reduce glare, but your family will look cool, as well.

4. Eat Right

Did you know that certain foods actually give our skin a healthy glow that can resemble a tan? Not only that, but certain diets like the Mediterranean diet are believed to have a protective effect agains the sun's harmful rays. Yet another reason to eat a healthy diet.

5. Protect Your Skin

When outside, use a broad spectrum sunscreen (UV A and B) with an SPF of at least 15. Use it half an hour before going outside, and reapply after swimming or sweating. Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hat to shield eyes, ears, and face.

6. Avoid High Noon

Peak sun times are when we're most prone to get burned, so plan outdoor activities in the morning and evening hours and try to avoid the sun during the middle of the day. If you do go outside, wear protective clothing and sunscreen.

7. Drive Safely

The sun's harmful UV rays can get to us even in our cars and the cumulative effect can add up over time. Take the same precautions while driving that you would outside, especially for children and newborns.

8. Check Skin Frequently

Summer is the time that our skin is under constant assault from nature, so check your family's skin on a regular basis, especially for sunburn and ticks. Look for excessive redness or irritation as well as new or irregular moles.

9. Talk to You Doctor

Take your kids to their pediatrician on a regular basis to address any questions or concerns you have about their skin and overall health. Learn as much as you can about the hazards of UV exposure and what you can do to protect your family.

A big part of enjoying the summer is staying healthy and feeling good, so be informed about UV radiation and avoid any injuries that may spoil the fun. If you have questions or concerns, speak with your doctor. For more information about sun protection and skin cancer, visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).