After long winter months indoors, children (and adults!) are ready to be outside! Whether it’s playing in the backyard, adventures in the park, splashing in the pool or vacations to the lake or beach – everyone needs to be protected from the sun’s harmful rays. People of all skin types get skin cancer. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented with protection from the sun’s rays.

Parents and child care providers are responsible for preventing summer sunburns by following the suggestions listed below. Child care providers can supply one brand of sunscreen for all children or parents may provide their choice of sunscreen with the child’s name on the bottle. Sunscreen is considered an over the counter medication. Parents must sign a medication permission form and child care providers must document that sunscreen is applied 15 minutes before going outside.

Preventing skin cancer begins in early childhood but everyone can benefit from the following, which is supported by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency):

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
  • Slap on a wide brimmed hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses
  • Seek Shade- limit sun exposure, particularly between 10 a.m. & 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Infants under 6 months of age can be taken outdoors, but they must be kept out of the sun.

Need some help deciding what sunscreen to use? Here are some quick tips to help!

Slop on Sunscreen

  1. Using broad spectrum sunscreen means protection from both UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn. Both UVB & UVA rays contribute to sun induced skin cancer and premature skin aging.
  2. SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays. Higher numbers block slightly more, but no product can block 100% of sun’s rays.
  3. If a product label states “water resistant,” it must designate whether it’s protective for 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
  4. Apply to dry skin at least 15 minutes before sun exposures.
  5. Generously coat all skin that will not be covered by clothing. DON’T FORGET face, ears and lips. Use lip balm that contains sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher.
  6. Re-apply approximately every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to directions on the bottle.
  7. Sunscreen can be applied to exposed skin of toddlers and infants 6 months of age or older.
  8. The FDA requires all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least 3 years.
  9. Check for an expiration date – if the date has passed, throw it away.
  10. Look for visible signs that it may no longer be good – change in color or consistency.
  11. Apply even on cloudy days – UV rays can penetrate the cloud cover.

So check out the great outdoors – but don’t let the sun get the best of you!


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