New beach displays shine bright light on sun safety
DARIEN — New displays informing the public about the dangers of UV levels and sun exposure have been placed at Weed Beach and Pear Tree Beach.
The displays were installed in June by SOLaware™ Technologies, a Hamden-based company that aims to raise awareness about sun safety.
Ferenc Fazekas, project lead of SOLaware™ Technologies division, said the project started in 2015 in Quinnipiac University’s Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the vision of a wearable sun safety device. The project pivoted to a sun safety education system in early 2017.
“We wanted to develop a system using digital technology to raise awareness for people in general about the risks of unprotected sun exposure,” Fazekas said. “It’s a personal drive and for the benefit of the public.”
The SOLaware™ Displays are modular sun safety education systems that show local UV levels at the point of sun exposure in real time. The signs display recommended preventive steps and provide samples of sunscreen, Fazekas said. The displays in Darien come as a part of SOLaware™ Technologies’ summer pilot program.
Fazekas said the technology has been placed in North Haven and would be brought to Wallingford and Milford as well.
Parks and Recreation Director Pamela Gery said after SOLaware™ Tech reached out to the town, they thought the system could be helpful and included it in the budget.
“We thought due to us having control of the two beaches and wanting the residents to have the education it would be good to implement them,” Gery said.
Money for the displays was budgeted between the Health Department and the Parks and Recreation Department, she said. The two departments are paying a discounted monthly lease of $250 for each unit, which will be on display until September.
Gery said the town will assess how well the displays are received at the end of the summer, which will determine whether they are put out next summer.
“So far, the reception from the community has been very good,” she said.
The displays aim to help increase awareness about exposure to the sun and the inherent dangers associated with it. One of the largest and most critical cancers is skin cancer, Health Director David Knauf said.
“As a public health department, our role is to be proactive and keep people from going to the doctor,” Knauf said.
Several statistics show the seriousness of skin cancer, and the displays can be a simple way to remind people, he said. The locations of the displays, in particular, could also help boost awareness, he said.
“They are placed in locations where I think people will notice them,” he said. “In particular the one at Pear Tree Point. It’s near a playground for kids.”
Parents can see these displays and remember the importance of sunscreen for their kids and take proper preventive measures, he said.
“I would encourage other communities to consider these things,” Knauf said. “It’s a great way to increase public awareness of a very real problem.”