Heat Illness Prevention & Sun Safety

 Sun Safety

Last Updated: April 17, 2024

​Avoid s​​unburn, eye damage, and possible skin cancer. 

Sunburn is the most commonly known ultraviolet (UV) injury due to sunlight exposure. In addition to skin damage resulting in sunburn, and later possible skin cancer, Service members are at risk of eye damage. Especially in areas where there are reflective surfaces such as sand or snow, personnel can develop snow blindness, a brief painful swelling of the eye. ​

 Soldiers not immune to damage of sun's ray​ External Link ​(J​ul 2022)


Snow blindness and other eye damage from UV rays

  • In snow-covered areas Service members risk both sunburn and "sn​ow blindness," a brief painful swelling ​​​​​​of the eye.   
  • High lifetime sun exposure increases the risk for skin cancer and cataract blindness.
  • Factsheet: Outdoor UV Radiation ​​Hazards and Protection


  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally (minimum of 1 oz) approximately 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply at least every two hours throughout the day.
  • Apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent containing DEET. 
    • Apply sunscreen approximately 30 minutes prior to applying DEET skin repellent 
    • Reapply sunscreen more often throughout the day.


  • Work and rest in the shade when possible. Construct shades if necessary.
  • Short shadow = seek shade! The sun's rays are strongest between 1000 and 1600 hours. Try to avoid being in the sun during these times, especially if you are doing personal training outdoors. 


  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes, head and neck. The military authorizes use of a wide-brimmed hat (e.g., military boonie hat), including during PT and training.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to cover your arms, legs and torso.


  • Eyewear should block UV rays. Military Combat Eye Protection items block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Military personnel should generally consider wraparound design eyewear or goggles if possible. These will protect against sun rays that come from the front and side.
  • Wear UV eye protection during recreational and hobby activities too.
  • Choose sunglasses that provide 99-100 percent protection from UVA and UVB, or marked as having a UV400 rating. Don't assume that expensive, designer sunglasses provide better UV protection than sunglasses from grocery stores or discount vendors.
  • In addition, polarized lenses help reduce exposure from snow, water, sand, and other reflective surfaces;  wear wraparound sunglasses or goggles when physically active or there is a risk of flying debris. 
  • For more information: https://​www.nei.nih.gov/about/news-and-events/news/protecting-your-eyes-suns-uv-light​​External Link