Summer break is almost here, and kids everywhere are getting excited for long days outside and months without homework. Whether it is playing neighborhood baseball games, camping outdoors, dips in the community pool, or any other favorite summer adventure, kids will be spending a lot of time in the hot summer sun. While this exposure to the sun will give a healthy dose of Vitamin D, it can also leave kids at risk for sunburns and the prolonged risks of skin cancer that comes with it.
To help keep your summer activities as healthy and sun-safe as possible, we wanted to talk about some of the best ways to keep every member of the family safe from sunburn and skin cancer.
Why is Sun Safety so Important?
When keeping yourself and your family safe from sun exposure, it is important to first understand why we need to keep ourselves safe. Sunlight brings UV rays which help plants grow and keeps the earth warm, but those same rays can also be harmful to the skin. It can take as little as 15 minutes of exposure to UV rays for a person’s skin to start being damaged. Sometimes this is more obvious for people who sunburn easily, but even if someone doesn’t turn red in only 15 minutes, UV rays can be harmful.
The sun’s UV rays are directly linked to skin cancer, so the more damage that they cause to the skin, the higher someone’s risk of developing skin cancer can become. This is why it is so important to take care of your skin and be mindful of your exposure to the sun.
One of the best-known shields against the bright summer sun is sunscreen. These creams, lotions, and even sprays can not only prevent sunburn but can also protect from UV rays. When shopping for sunscreen, there are many SPF numbers that might be confusing for some. In general, the higher the SPF, the more protection your sunscreen will have, but the minimum SPF required to protect your skin is SPF 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A higher SPF is preferred, but when in doubt, a broad-spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen can keep you safe. The same goes for any makeup that someone might wear. Foundations and concealers with an SPF of 15 or higher can help protect your face from UV rays.
But the right SPF isn’t the only rule for sunscreen protection. Sunscreen needs to be maintained throughout the day. It isn’t enough to put on sunscreen in the morning then go swimming for several hours. Reapplication is important, and you should pay attention to the reapplication guide on the back of your sunscreen bottle. Some may have specifications, but when in doubt, make sure to reapply every two hours.
It’s always important to dress appropriately for your various summer activities and taking the sun into account is part of it. Despite the warm weather, it isn’t always a good idea to dress in shorts and tank tops. If you’re going to spend prolonged time outdoors, then you need to consider having coverage for your skin.
Long sleeves, pants, and wide skirts create shade for your arms and legs which keeps them safe from the sun. Try incorporating light lays into your outfit if you’re going on a long hike or attending an outdoor event. Breathable fabrics, like linen, can help to keep your body cool while also giving you extra protection from the sun.
Sunglasses and hats are two other important accessories that can help protect from bright rays. Hats with a wide bill or brim can create some cooling shade for your shoulders. Sunglasses then protect your eyes, and sunglasses with wrap-around lenses can offer extra protection when you need it.
Getting a Break from the Sun
As much as we all love a warm, sunny day, every member of the family needs to pay attention to how long they’re in the sun. Taking breaks from direct sunlight can go a long way in keeping your skin safe from UV rays. Sometimes, this might mean finding a good place to rest in the shade, and other times this might mean going inside for a while to recharge.
If you’re spending long hours in the sun, then try to use your sunscreen reapplication schedule as a time for breaks. Every two hours or so, find a good place in the shade or head inside to reapply your SPF and get a drink of water to stay hydrated. These breaks will not only help you to stay safe from the sun but will also help parents and kids alike to keep their energy up throughout the day and avoid conditions like heat exhaustion.
Kyle ER & Hospital is here to support your whole family. Summer is always a fun time of the year for children and families but knowing why and how to stay safe from the sun is an important part of outdoor activities. With the right sunblock, the right clothes, and a good routine for getting shade, then everyone can stay sun safe this summer season.