Structures for Sun Protection

Artificial structures such as umbrellas, canopies, awnings, and sails are useful sources of shade and therefore provide protection from the sun. Some of them can also be either portable or permanent. Trees can also be a good natural source of shade, provided that the foliage is sufficiently dense: dappled shade only gives uneven protection at best.

Products specifically designed for sun protection often have a UPF rating in a similar manner to clothing, which the manufacturer provides to indicate the level of protection offered. Look for a UPF of 50 or more.

The protection offered by canvas or similar fabric structures can vary over time, especially if washed or otherwise exposed to water: protection can be increased by shrinkage, or reduced by stretching or by fading of any dyes or other colouration.

However, sunlight can get around the physical barrier of a shade-producing structure by reflection off surrounding light-coloured or reflective surfaces of other structures or the ground. Be aware of this, and take extra precautions as necessary. Sides to the structure can help to protect against this.


Glass can allow UV light through as wells as visible light, especially UVA, therefore you can still be at risk from over-exposure to sunlight even if you are indoors near a window and especially in a car or other type of vehicle.

Some types of glass provide better protection than others, and tinting or UV film can be used to provide greater protection, blocking up to 99% of UV.

In cars, laminated windscreens typically block all UVB and 80% of UVA, while other, clear, windows only block 97% of UVB and as little as 37% of UVA. The tinting of car windows is also usually legally regulated for road safety reasons – typically the windscreen and front side windows must allow at least 70% of visible light through, and reflective tints can be extremely dangerous for other road users. A proper shade visor should be used to protect babies and toddlers while travelling in a car.

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