Farmers, other outdoor workers need to prevent sun damage

BEDFORD—Extended amounts of sun exposure to those who work outdoors can increase their risk of developing skin cancer.

“Farmers and others who work outdoors are at an increased risk of skin cancer since most skin cancers are secondary to sun damage,” said Dr. Amy Johnson, a family nurse practitioner for Centra Medical Group in Bedford County and president of Bedford County Farm Bureau. “Skin cancer is actually the No. 1 type of cancer that we see in farmers. Typically, skin cancers are found on the nose, tops of the ears and the back of the neck since these are areas most exposed to the sun.”

Johnson said the most common skin cancers she treats are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. “Melanoma is very aggressive,” she noted. “It will move to other body areas, sometimes very quickly, and can be deadly.”

She said people working outdoors should cover sun-exposed areas with light-colored, lightweight long sleeves. “There are clothing items now that can make you feel cooler outdoors and protect from UVA and UVB rays,” Johnson added.

Light-colored clothing also helps repel ticks, whose bites can transmit serious illnesses. Tick bites are another hazard for people who work outside in the summer, particularly in the woods or in tall grasses.

It’s also important to wear a wide-brimmed hat that protects the nose, ears and back of the neck, and sunglasses to protect the eyes from sun damage.

Johnson said any sun-exposed areas that can’t be covered with clothing should be covered in a water- and sweat-resistant broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, and reapplied every two hours or more often with excessive sweating.

Avoid working during the hottest parts of the day, and always hydrate well. “Drink plenty of water or sports drinks, which will replace electrolytes like sodium and potassium,” Johnson explained. Stay in the shade if possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

When taking certain blood pressure medications, blood thinners or diabetic medications, you can dehydrate faster, Johnson shared. Many medications increase sun sensitivity, increasing the likelihood of burning.

Check skin regularly, and note any changes to moles or any new skin lesions that develop, she suggested. If a lesion increases in size, changes color, bleeds frequently or is painful or itchy, it should be checked by a medical professional.

Don’t delay: Enter a State Fair competition today!

DOSWELL—The deadline to enter one of the State Fair of Virginia’s 1,200+ competitions is fast approaching.

Applications for most entries in the creative and culinary arts categories are due Sept. 5. Guidelines are posted on the fair’s website at

There is a competition to match everyone’s talents—from artists to photographers, seamstresses to woodworkers. “People who enter our competitions take pride in knowing that they’re competing with the best home bakers, canners, artists and craftsmen in the state,” noted Stuart Sanders, the fair’s assistant executive director.

“For the first time, the State Fair is considering offering satellite drop-off sites for horticulture entries. If a need is determined, sites in Charlottesville and Roanoke will be announced after the application deadline.”

Back by popular demand is Virginia Flea Market Flip, the State Fair’s version of HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. In this competition, contestants are encouraged to purchase and refurbish, refresh or repurpose a flea market item for less than $100. Before and after photos must be submitted by Sept. 5.

The top 10 items will be on display during the fair, and the winner will be determined by the voting public. The creator of the winning item will receive $150.

Culinary competitions include the State Fair Special Cookie competition for youth and adults.

Parent/child, guardian/child or grandparent/grandchild teams can enter made-from-scratch cookies in this category. A new cake class this year challenges bakers to submit their best mermaid or unicorn confection.

There also are opportunities for artists of all mediums, flower arrangers, quilters, spinners and weavers. There are jewelry and button craft divisions, and even a class for an article made from spun pet hair.

With 448 horticulture categories, those with a green thumb may want to enter a beguiling begonia or stunning succulent. Farmers and home gardeners can enter their best corn, wheat, tobacco plants and fruits and vegetables.

Canners have the chance to show off their skills with well over 100 preserved food classes for pickles, jellies, jams, syrups, vinegars and more.

There are almost 600 categories of creative arts for adults and youth, including 21 categories in the State Fair quilt show.

Share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists

RICHMOND—September is Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month in Virginia.

It’s an important time to remember to “See and Be Seen,” which is Drive Smart Virginia’s campaign to inform all road users that they have a responsibility to be aware of other travelers.

Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on roadways have spiked in recent years. According to Drive Smart Virginia, in 2017:

· 114 pedestrians died, and 1,571 were injured on roadways;

· 13 bicyclists were killed, and 623 were injured on roadways;

· 42% of pedestrian deaths involved alcohol impairment;

· The top pedestrian action contributing to fatalities was crossing the road where there was not

an intersection; and

· Pedestrians were at fault in fatal crashes 37 percent of the time.

“The increase in deaths and injuries of pedestrians and bicyclists on Virginia roadways is not good news,” said Darlene Wells, executive vice president and general manager of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., and a member of the Drive Smart Virginia board of directors. “Everyone has the right to use the roadways, and it is important that everyone is looking out for each other.”

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists all have an obligation to help ensure the safety of everyone on the roadways.

Motorists should focus on the road and not drive while distracted or impaired. Always slow down when you spot a bicyclist or pedestrian, and give them space.

Pedestrians and cyclists need ensure their visibility by wearing bright or reflective clothing. Bikers should wear a helmet and use bike lights or a flashlight as appropriate. Never bike or walk while impaired, and always cross at crosswalks or intersections. Do not bike or walk distracted.

Virginia roadway laws to keep in mind:

· Bicyclists and motorists are to use the right side of the road and yield to pedestrians.

· Pedestrians should use crosswalks and sidewalks. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic

and as far from traffic as possible.

· Obey all traffic signals and signs.

· Provide at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicyclist on the roadway.

For more information, visit