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sun safe

After a year of waiting, summer is finally here! That means cookouts, picnics, beach days, and barbecues! Although time in the sun lets our bodies absorb vitamin D, necessary for strong, healthy bones, too much unprotected sun exposure can be very harmful and may lead to skin and eye damage, immune system suppression, heat exhaustion/heat stroke, and skin cancer. This is why it is so important for parents to know about sun safety and teach their children about how to enjoy the sun safely.

Remember these tips when enjoying time in the sun:

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible. Use a beach umbrella!
  • When spending time in the sun, cover up! Wear hats to shade ears, neck, and face. Choose long sleeve shirts and pants that are not see-through when held up to light.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep well-hydrated to avoid heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion! Heat exhaustion symptoms include headache, nausea, weakness, weak pulse, disorientation, fainting, and cold sweat. Heat stroke can develop if these symptoms are allowed to continue and can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of 30 SPF (sun protection factor) or more, and remember to reapply often (every 2 hours) and generously to the entire body (don’t forget the ears, behind the knees, and under bathing suit straps!)! Remember, the sun’s rays are harshest between 10 am and 4pm!
  • If your children are going to be swimming or exposed to water, make sure the sunscreen is water-proof, because damaging rays can reflect off the water’s surface and cause a burn.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from UV light.
  • Young children are especially vulnerable to skin damage, so it is important to be extra cautious. Infants under age 6 months have very thin skin and sunscreen should not be applied. Keep them in the shade whenever possible (like under a beach umbrella). If a baby is going to be exposed to sunlight, make sure every part of his/her body is covered in clothing and the face is shaded with a hat.
  • Always avoid tanning booths. Teach kids to appreciate the beauty of their natural skin tone!

Limit your time in direct sunlight whenever possible to prevent skin damage and health risks, and lead by example. Children will respond better when they see their parents being safe too. For more information on sun safety, visit http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/children.htm.

Written By:


Immunization Coordinator

Immunization Coordinator in the Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition

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