Fun in the Sun! Sun Safety for Kids
- Written by Samira Ali
It is important to teach children about sun safety during the early years to create healthy habits.
Children love to play in the sun, but they have no idea how harmful unprotected sun exposure can be! It is important to teach children about sun safety during the early years to create healthy habits and prevent the development of skin cancers later in life. Research suggests that excessive exposure to solar radiation is linked to the development of skin cancers.1 However, there are many other sun-related conditions to watch out for such as heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. These concerns are easily managed with some preventive measures.
Summers in Canada are short and unpredictable. The heat does not last for long so it makes sense that we all try to spend as much time outdoors while we can! While enjoying the summer this year, make sure you and your kids are prepared!
Check out these 3 tips for practicing sun safety while outdoors this summer.
1. Stay Hydrated!
Drinking water is always important. It is especially important to stay hydrated during the summer! Drinking water helps your body produce sweat, which helps the body maintain a healthy body temperature.2 In addition, staying hydrated will prevent dehydration, which is common when being active outdoors. Drink lots of cool water throughout the day to stay hydrated and energized! For an added hydration boost, snack on fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon, cucumbers, and cantaloupe. If possible, avoid snacking on dehydrating foods that are high in sodium such as potato chips.
2. Wear Sunscreen!
MyHealth Alberta recommends sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Effective sunscreen will state “broad-spectrum” on the bottle, which protects against ultraviolet A and B rays.3 Apply sunscreen to all areas of the body that will be exposed to the sun 15-20 minutes before going outside. Some young children may resist sunscreen; for easy application, try using a roll-on product, or squeeze sunscreen onto a foundation makeup brush and brush it on the child’s skin. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen often! Once outside it is easy to get caught up in activities but sunscreen should be reapplied every 2-3 hours. Additionally, if you are engaging in water activities, ensure the sunscreen you select is water-resistant.
3. Practice Sun-Safe Behaviours
When playing outdoors in the sun, both children and adults should wear hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Encourage children to play in the shade, where the sun cannot hit their skin directly. Alberta Health Services recommends avoiding direct sunlight when the sun rays are the strongest (10 am-4 pm).4 In addition, take frequent breaks to reapply sunscreen, drink water, and prevent heat exhaustion.
Winter is only a few short months away, so enjoy the warm weather!
Just remember to drink water, wear sunscreen, and practice sun-safe behaviours!
Visit the Canadian Cancer Society for more information on sun safety for kids at: https://cheerskids.info/School-Sun-Safety.
- Loescher, L. J., Emerson, J., Taylor, A., Christensen D. H., and McKinney, M. (1995). Educating preschoolers about sun safety. American Journal of Public Health, 85(7), 939-943. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.85.7.939
- Mayo Clinic. Heat Exhaustion. mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-exhaustion/symptoms-causes/syc-20373250
- MyHealth Alberta. (2020). Protecting Your Skin From The Sun. myhealth.alberta.ca. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=tv6658spec
- Alberta Health Services. (August 2009). Be sun smart. Albertahealthservices.ca. https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/features/2009/Page721.aspx