By Eren Mckay
Filed under Free Thematic Units
Sun Safety: Do you know these simple steps to protect your family from the dangers of the sun?
Going out in the sun is fun but we have to be careful about the risks involved. Melanoma, a serious skin cancer, can be triggered by spending too much time in the sun without the proper protection.
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Sadly more than one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.
You can help protect your family from the dangers of skin cancer by taking a few preventative steps. By ensuring that each person in your family puts on sunscreen before heading out the door you are taking the first step to reduce the chance of getting this disease.
Here are some precautions to take for your family when going outside:
- The worst hours for going out in the sun are from 10 AM to 4 PM. It’s best to avoid going out in the sun during this time frame because the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) strength is at its peak.
If for some reason you have to be out in the sun at these hours use the maximum amount of protection that you can.
A sunblock with an SPF rating of 50 is the ideal during these hours. Sunblocks are even stronger than sunscreen. Non-protected exposure during these hours would increase your family’s risk of cancer tremendously.
- When do we put on the sunscreen? Rub it on half an hour before exposure to the sun. Some people only apply it after going outside. This is a mistake since it takes time for your skin to absorb the sunscreen.
- A common mistake that we make is forgetting certain spots when putting on the sunscreen. So every part of the skin that is exposed should have sunscreen. Ears, feet, behind the legs are places that we tend to forget.
- Keep reapplying it every 2 hours. Especially if you go into the water. Even if your sunscreen is water resistant you still need to reapply every 2 hours.
- Clothing helps to block sun rays so if possible, wear a light-weight, long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, and a wide-brim hat to help protect your skin.
- Remain in the shade as much as possible. When your kids are playing in the sand, have them remain under a large umbrella for more protection.
- Choose a sunscreen that has very high SPF rating and that is specific for babies.
- Pediatricians recommend that babies less than six months old should always be kept in light-weight long-sleeved shirts and pants and in the shade as much as possible.
- Use hats and baby sunglasses to protect their eyesight. There are sunglasses that have a band to prevent the sunglasses from falling off.
- Remain with your baby in the shade as much as possible. Take a shade umbrella with you if the place you are going doesn’t already have one.
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It’s best for babies to stay out of the sun entirely at peak hours (10 am to 4pm). A baby’s skin is much more delicate and the chances of them getting sunburned are much higher. If the child is under 6 months it should not go out in the sun at peak hours. If you must take a baby out in the sun then follow these tips:
1- Test the sunscreen for allergies on a small amount of skin before using it all at once. My kids and I have had allergic reactions to sunscreen. Burning and itching ruined our day. There are always more severe allergic reactions so please test on a small portion of your skin before rubbing it all over. If there’s a reaction check with your doctor which sunscreen to get that doesn’t give allergies. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
2- Make sure it has UVA and UVB protection written on the label or the words “broad spectrum”. This simply means that the sunscreen provides protection for both kinds of rays.
The UVA rays are what accelerate the aging effects. Even so, overexposure to these rays also causes skin cancer. Sunburns and skin cancer are primarily caused by UVB rays. Not all sunscreens have both rays’ protection so read the label to ensure that you are protected from both these types of sun rays.
3- The SPF factor should be at least 15 according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The higher the sun protection factor (SPF), the more you’ll be protected. An SPF of 30 is a good amount of protection. Personally I use SPF 50 or 60 when I’m going to spend a long time in the sun. Find and use only those sunscreens that carry the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval.
4- Water resistant and water proof sunscreens are essential when going swimming. Water resistant sunscreen only provides 40 minutes of protection in the water. So if you’re going to be spend an hour in the water you definitely want to use water proof sunscreen which gives you 80 minutes of protection.
Make sure that everyone in your family, as well as friends, are aware of the need for sunscreen every time they go outdoors. Talk about the dangers of skin cancer and also about the consequences of sunburns. The more times you’ve been sunburned the higher your chances of getting skin cancer. So ideally we should do all that we can so that this never happens. Discuss the facts with everyone in your family.
Be Aware of Moles
Pay attention to your skin. Check the pigmentation as well as the size and shape of any visible moles. Note any changes on a piece of paper and contact your doctor if you perceive any differences.
Interactive Online Learning Resources about Sun Safety for Children:
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