Did you know that around 80% of our lifetime sun exposure occurs during our childhood? It’s true. The Skin Cancer Foundation has done numerous studies and has also found that just one blistering sunburn could double our risks of getting melanoma in later life.
So, with the effects of sun burn becoming more known and the fact that we have been getting some really hot days this summer, there has never been a more important time to make sure that sun protection is a top priority for us and our children.
To help you keep your children safe in the sun, here is our top advice.
Apply Suncream Properly
The first port of call when keeping your children safe in the sun is ensuring that they have sun cream on and that it is applied properly. Make sure to choose a sun cream with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 20 or higher, apply it generously at least 30 minutes before your child goes out in the sun and to all areas that will be exposed to the sun (including ears, hands, feet, behind the neck and lips etc). It’s also important to remember to reapply certain sun creams every 2-3 hours, especially after swimming or activity.
As well as sufficient sun cream, you also need to make sure that your child has physical protection from UV damage. Try to dress your children in dark-coloured clothing where possible, with long sleeves and trousers if not too hot. Sunglasses, hats, and umbrellas for outside play are also essential.
Keep them Hydrated
Many young children get ill during hot weather due to dehydration, so it is really important that you keep lots of fresh and cool water available and keep prompting your children to drink throughout the day. When going out for longer days, remember to take a cooler bag to keep your drinks cold and don’t leave them out in the sun.
Keep them Cool
One of the most important ways to keep your children safe in the sun is to keep them as cool as possible. On hot days, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are a serious risk, especially for young children, so make sure that you take certain measures when making the most of the outside. Hot weather can also exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, so keeping cool is vital. The best ways to keep your children cool and to avoid any unnecessary heat exposure are:
- Limit outdoor play between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM (when the sun rays are at their strongest)
- Limit outdoor time to shorter periods
- Reduce the level of activity on hot days
- Seek shade as much as possible
- Ensure your children are sufficiently covered in clothing and sun cream
- Always test the floor temperature with the back of your hand (hold it there for at least 5 seconds)
- Always keep pushchairs in the shade and out of direct sunlight
Enforce Sun Protection Behaviours
Our children learn from us, so it is really important to exhibit sun protection behaviours ourselves to set a good example. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and apply your own sun cream in front of your children to reinforce this positive behaviour. Only then can we teach them the importance of sun protection and keeping hydrated.
Young children are very susceptible to the sun and are at a higher risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and sun burn, therefore it is essential for parents to make sure that they are kept safe in the sun with the measures above.
Only then are you ready to venture out into the sun safely with the peace of mind that your children are happy and healthy!