Since our children spend a large part of their day outside, it is important to teach them safe fun-in-the-sun practices. According the American Cancer Society, over 2 million cases of skin cancer were reported in this country last year. In fact, just one or two bad sunburns as a child can double the person’s chance of developing melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. Too much exposure to the sun’s ultra violet rays can also damage the eyes and suppress the body’s immune system.
According to the American Cancer Society, we can all learn to “Seek, Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap, and Avoid.” Here are the preventative measures they advise:
• Slip on a shirt: one that the sun can’t shine through.
• Slop on sunscreen: SPF of 15 every day, not just at the beach. A generous amount can be measured as a palm full and reapply often.
• Slap on a hat: a wide brimmed hat is best; a baseball cap must be worn with sunscreen because it doesn’t cover as much.
• Wrap on sunglasses: wear sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV absorption.
• Avoid: the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and avoid tanning beds.
Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
Fresh air and sunshine makes for healthy children. In fact, the UV rays are a good source of vitamin D, the vitamin that helps kids have strong and healthy bones. The National Institutes of Health reminds us that if we are blocking the sun’s damaging rays, we should also remember to eat foods rich in vitamin D or to take a supplement (milk, salmon, or cod liver oil, for example.) Also, as stated above, while reaching for the sunscreen, don’t forget those sunglasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends UV blocking sunglasses because of the link between UV exposure and eye cancers and cataracts. Practice sun safety every single day with your children—not just during the summer months.