Skin cancers, like melanoma, have reached epidemic proportions and few people are at a greater risk than anglers.
Skin cancers kill more people than all other types of cancers combined. Be aware that 80 percent of UV rays can be reflected off the water. Finally, remember that most skin cancers can be prevented by taking care outdoors and using the right sun safe gear.
After losing my father to skin cancer, I've become determined to make a difference in his memory. That's why I'm going to fish my way around Florida to raise awareness, and with the help of the folks at Buff and the online editors at Florida Sportsman, In-Fisherman, Fly Fisherman, and Game & Fish Magazine, raise as many dollars as I can for the Melanoma Research Foundation.
A big part of staying safe starts with the gear you use on the water. These things might seem, in the grand scheme of things, to be trivial. However, there is one potential moment in your life when everything could stop and being told by a doctor that you have skin cancer due to sun exposure could suddenly be the single most important factor in your life. We want to help prevent you from ever having that conversation. Dressing properly and using proper sun protective measure will greatly reduce your risk.
Here's how to protect every part of your body from prolonged sun exposure using cool sun protection gear.
The skin on your head and face is especially sensitive to the sun for many reasons. It's the most likely to be exposed to both direct sunlight and to reflection off the water. While everything from your neck down stands some chance of being protected by clothing, or shade on your boat, your face and hands will bear the brunt of the sun all day.
It's always a good idea to wear a cap while on the water. Even a thick head of hair won't stop all UV rays from hitting your scalp. When that once-in-a-lifetime fish is caught, remind yourself that the hat's lucky, and you'll never need to worry about forgetting it again.
The part that many anglers overlook here that can be costly is the face. Your face will bear the brunt of the burden of sun both from above and from reflection. This is where a product like a Buff comes in. Make it a habit to wear one on the water, even if the day is not a scorcher. Thanks to the guys at Buff you can even pick a design that fits your style and or personality.
Clothing with added UPF protection is always the safest way to go. More and more outdoor clothing companies are making sure their gear has UPF ratings. Companies like Cabelas are even creating products like sun sleeves that act like a glove for your entire arm.
While it might feel odd at first, wearing gloves is a tremendous idea for all anglers. When we think about it, our hands spend more time in the sun than just about any body part, and they're the most essential one to our sport.
Here again, the people at Buff have you covered. Their gloves won't just keep your hands from getting burned; they're tactical, too. The exposed fingertips will allow you to easily tie knots, lip fish, and tweak lures.
Many anglers prefer a type of shoe that leaves openings or spaces so water can drain out. But a sandal that completely covers your foot is best for sun protection. If you do choose something that leaves skin exposed, make sure not to forget your feet when it comes to applying sunscreen. Better yet, wear a pair of protective socks.
So stay safe and follow along. Every pound of largemouth bass I can catch this summer, Buff, will make a donation to the Melanoma Research Foundation. And by all means if you'd like to contribute to help in the fight against skin cancer visit: melanoma.org/CatchACure. No donation amount is too small and thanks in advance for your support!
You'll be able to follow the journey on my blog, FishingRick, and through a Facebook page where I'll share more updates.