I have to confess-I love the sun! I am definitely one of those people who is happier when I am warm and the sun is out. I spend a lot of time outside all year round, but even more during the summer. I know how much children love being outside, and how much they benefit from the fresh air and space. With this in mind I thought I should write about Safety in the Sun. Lots of people forget that because we don't necessarily have the scorchingly hot weather here in England that you may encounter abroad that we still need to protect our children (and ourselves) from the sun's rays.
When I worked as a manager of a day nursery I remember it taking ages to get the children ready for the garden (whatever the weather, you were either putting on willies, hats, gloves and coats, or suncream and sun hats). But it was one of those things that have to be done for the children's health and education. It was always explained to the children why they were putting cream and hats on and the more they had to do it the more they would ask for their cream when they wanted to go outside. Getting 30 children ready for the Summer Sun is a lot more manic than just organising our own children so this Summer let's make sure we don't forget the cream and hats!
As parents we need to be aware of Sun Safety and we need to educate our children about it from an early age. Health complications such as skin cancer are things we can try to prevent in ourselves and our children. Being a good role model is probably the best and easiest way to show our children how important sun safety is.
Top Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun.
- Cover as much of the body as possible with clothing (not only will you save on suncream but it is better protection for the skin.)
- Apply suncream to ALL parts of the body that are exposed-don't forget the ears, back of the neck and feet. It is recommended that you apply suncream 15 minutes before you are going out in the sun and then reapply it every hour and more often if your child is in and out of water.
- Buy suncream that protects against UVA and UVB with a high SPF of at least 30.
- Ensure your child is wearing a hat and if they are old enough sunglasses too. Find a hat they like to wear to encourage them to wear it!
- Keep hydrated-encourage your children to drink lots of fluid. You could make icelollies to encourage more fluid intake.
- Ensure they have access to shade, especially during the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm).
- Use trees, umbrellas or tents to provide shade if you are outside all day.
- Apply suncream before they go to school and send it with them to reapply at break times if they are allowed.
It is possible for skin to burn in as little as 10 minutes. A baby's skin is up to 15 times thinner than adults! Children's skin is more sensitive than ours, but they have little understanding of staying safe so as their parents we need to make sure we role model, ensure they are staying covered up and beginning to understand why they need to take care of their skin in the sun.
My husband and I took our daughter on holiday to Greece last year; she loves the water and was in and out of it all the time. We chose to go away late September so that the sun wouldn't be as strong as it would be in July, August time when we used to holiday. Before going away we had bought her a sunsafe swimsuit (an all in one piece) and a hat with neck protector. I wanted one of these for peace of mind but it didn't stop me from keeping her in the shade lots, taking her indoors if it got too hot and smothering her in suncream!
I found buying suncream much harder than I thought! There are so many things to take into consideration-UVA and UVB protection, SPF, Water proof and Water Resistant, allergies, etc. I finally chose the highest factor, protection from UVA and UVB and water resistant and a brand I knew.
Don't forget it's not just the Summer months we need to protect our skin from-the sun can still be strong all year round.
We know that Vitamin D is vital for good health. It is made in the skin from sunlight and here is very little Vitamin D found in the foods that we eat. We need a certain amount of sun exposure to stay healthy and ensure we are getting enough Vitamin D. About 2-3 sun exposures a week from April-September for up to 30 minutes at a time is sufficient. This still needs to be €˜safe' time in the sun!
Remember when you want to have fun in the sun-stay safe in the sun!