Summer time is a chance for us to finally get outdoors in the beautiful sunshine. Enjoying safe sun exposure is important for good health, particularly after enduring a long winter. However, parents need to keep in mind the risk of injury by harmful UV rays. Children who are fair skinned, freckled, or those who burn easily, are particularly at risk, as are people with a family history of melanoma.
Here are some tips from the Canadian Pediatric Society on how to protect yourself and your children during the summer months:
How can I keep my child safe from the sun?Avoid being in the sun for long periods of time at the start of the season. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend outdoors with your child over a period of several days. When possible, stay indoors or in the shade during the hottest time of the day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To prevent sunburn:
*Always protect babies from the sun:
- Limit sun exposure, especially during peak hours,
- Cover your baby in loose clothing and make sure she’s wearing a hat,
- Use a stroller sunshade to cover your baby.
- Make sure favourite play areas have a shady spot or bring along a sun umbrella.
- Your child should wear a sun hat with a wide brim and back flap, sunglasses with 100% UV protection ("broad spectrum") and loose cotton clothing to protect skin from the sun's rays.
- Apply a sun block cream with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 on all areas of your child's skin that will be exposed to the sun. Use a lip balm with SPF 15 as well.
Remember to put sunblock on:
- Back of neck and legs.
- Tops of feet
- Reapply sunscreen after swimming and playing with water.
- Encourage children to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Be alert for signs that a child is experiencing heat illness and needs to go inside. These include thirst, fatigue, leg or stomach cramps, and cool, moist skin, which can be a sign of heat exhaustion.
- Most importantly, lead by example and remember to protect yourself from the sun as well.