Outdoor play is a favourite past-time for most young children and an important part of their development, but parents need to be aware of the damage that too much sun exposure can cause. Experts advise that just one bad blistering sunburn during childhood can double the risk of skin cancer later in life!
Sun protection should begin in infancy, and continue throughout life. While you are following the steps to keep your child sun safe, explain why this is necessary and encourage their participation.
Teach your child the ABC of sun safety:
A = Away – Stay away from the sun in the middle of the day
B = Block – Use sunblock to block out the sun’s harmful rays.
C= Cover Up - Wear a shirt and a hat when playing outside.
Slip Slop Slap
Slip on a shirt with long sleeves t protect your skin from the sun
Slop on some sunscreen with minimum sun protection factor 30+, 50 + and water resistant would be the best.
Slap on a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face, ears and neck.
Check you shadow
When you shadow is shorter than you – the sun is very strong. Fair skinned people can burn in as little as 15 minutes! This is the time to head for the shade. Play indoors or under a tree or umbrella.
Schedule outdoor activities and play time before 11am and after 4pm – this is the hottest part of the day, when burning occurs most quickly. If you are planning an outing – head for somewhere that has lots of trees for shade and take a large umbrella to sit under.
Use sunblock every day – even if it is cloudy. Research indicates that regular use of sunblock in the first 18 years of life (it is estimated that 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18) can lower the risk of certain skin cancers by 78%.
Use a broad spectrum sunblock, which screens out both UVA and UVB rays. The higher the SPF – them more protection your child will have from burning. Apply sunblock at least 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours. Use waterproof sunblock if your child is swimming.
Don’t forget to sunblock before going out in the car. Although windows block UVB rays, UVA rays can penetrate the glass and burn your child.
Sunblock is not recommended for babies under 6 months.