By Erin McNeill
Your summer activities are planned, the camps are signed up for and the prospect of sleeping in a little bit each morning is on the horizon. However, before you send your kids outdoors to play, you need to think about how you’ll keep them safe in the sun. Knowing when to stay out of the sun and what sunscreen to apply while outside will not only impact the success of the summer by avoiding sunburns, it will also impact the health of your child for years to come. Sunburns that result in blistering have a very close association with adult diseases, including skin cancer. Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid damage from the rays of the sun by knowing the ins and outs of staying safe outdoors this summer.
Apply sunscreen – Choose a non-toxic sunscreen that is activity specific for your child. For instance, water-resistant sunscreen will stick better to skin in the water, while sweat-resistant sunscreen is less likely to run down into eyes while running and playing. You should look for one that is broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) with a SPF of 30. Apply one ounce 20-30 minutes before going outside to allow time for the sunscreen to soak in and provide coverage. Make sure to apply sunscreen to places you wouldn’t normally think of, such as the ears, back of the neck and tops of feet! You should reapply every two hours at least, or more frequently if your child is sweating or in the water.
Stay in the shade – The sun is the most intense between the hours of 10am and 4pm, so it’s best to plan activities in the shade during that time. Save activities that can’t be done in the shade for the early morning or evening hours.
Cover-up – Have children wear rash guards and shorts while swimming, if possible. You can also find clothing with SPF built right into it now. Also, look for clothing specific to activities and encourage your child to wear it. There are lightweight but protective long-sleeve shirts and pants that will prevent some of the suns rays from getting to your skin.
Wear a hat – Choose a hat with a wide brim to shield your face and eyes from the rays of the sun.
Sunglasses – Protect your eyes with UV blocking sunglasses. Eyes are often neglected during the summer, so be prepared by having sunglasses handy.
Cool and cloudy days – You can get burnt even on cloudy and cool days, so make sure that you provide adequate coverage even when the sun isn’t out in full force.
Drink liquids – Always take frequent water breaks while outside, especially while running around and being active. Staying hydrated can greatly reduce the risk of heat stroke.
Keep newborns out of the sun – Children under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight, and sunscreen is generally not approved for infants under six months of age.
Summer is a magical time for kids; schedules are thrown away and the freedom of playing outside for hours is enticing. Be sure that your kids are safe while playing out in the sun this summer, as a sunburn can ruin a perfectly good summer day quickly, not to mention cause long-term health effects that can easily be avoided by diligently applying sunscreen!
Erin NcNeill is a writer for 4Nannies.com