It's critical to know the level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation before you plan outdoor activities. The UV Alert system issues a notification when the level of solar UV radiation is predicted to be unusually high, and consequently the risk of overexposure is greater. The UV Alert provides SunWise action steps that you should take to reduce risk of overexposure.
We encourage you to check the UV Index daily or to sign up using our free EnviroFlash service to receive the UV Alert by email.
Frequent Questions about the UV Alert
Q: What is the UV Alert and what does it mean?
A: The UV Alert is a notification that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching a given locality is expected to be unusually intense compared to historical levels in that locality. For example, if an area usually has moderate UV levels in the springtime but experiences a sunny day with higher than normal UV, there may be a UV Alert for that day.
Q: Is the UV Alert the same thing as the UV Index?
A: No, but the UV Alert is based on the UV Index. The UV Index is a scale, ranging from 1 (low) to 11+ (extreme), that indicates the intensity of solar UV radiation reaching the surface on a given day. A UV Alert is issued only when the UV Index forecast is at least 6 and also is higher than normal statistically (at or above the 95th percentile) for the date. Your area has a UV Index forecast every day, but there might be a UV Alert only a few days per month, or none at all.
Q: Why is EPA providing the UV Alert?
A: EPA is providing the UV Alert because overexposure to UV radiation from the sun is the most preventable cause of skin cancer. The UV Alert, along with the UV Index, notifies you that the risk of overexposure is greater than usual and provides a few simple SunWise action steps that children and adults can use to protect themselves.
Q: How can I find out if there is a UV Alert for my area?
A: The UV Alert, if one has been issued for your area, will accompany EPA’s UV Index forecast. You can also find UV Index forecasts by ZIP Code. Also, you can sign up to receive emails with your area’s UV Index forecast and the UV Alert at EnviroFlash.
Q: What should I do if there is a UV Alert for my area?
A: If EPA has issued a UV Alert for your area, you should take the following simple SunWise action steps:
- Minimize time in the sun, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-protective sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to any exposed skin.