Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sun Safety for Children

School’s out, the weather is warm and it is time to hit the pool or beach! Children are especially susceptible to the harmful rays of the sun so make sure you follow these tips when heading outside for a day of fun:
·         Wear protective clothing. Make sure your child is wearing long sleeves (if possible) and a hat. Some clothing has UPF (UV protection factor) in them which helps protect from the sun’s rays.
·         Use sunblock. Many people do not know the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Sunscreen protects your skin from harm caused by UV rays while sunblock actually blocks the UV rays from getting to your skin. Sunblock typically blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It is important to use sunblock on infants and children to prevent skin damage from the sun. These products contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Look for these ingredients when choosing a sunblock. Children’s skin is more delicate than adults and tends to burn more easily. According to the American Cancer Society, babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protective measures such as protective clothing, hats and a stroller with a canopy should be used.
·         Wear sunglasses. It is important to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and your children’s eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays which can cause damage to vision. Sunglasses also protect skin around the eyes from burning which is more delicate and more prone to damage. You should look for sunglasses for you and your children with a label that says “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV requirements.” This means the lenses block 99% of UV rays.  Children need smaller versions of real, protective adult sunglasses. Toy sunglasses are not sufficient protection in the sun.
·         Limit exposure during mid day. UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm typically. A good way to test the intensity of the sun at a certain time of day is to look at your shadow. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are the strongest and protection is vital. Do not assume because it is cloudy or overcast that the sun’s rays are less powerful! Always use sunblock or sunscreen even on cloudy days. Texas tends to have many more days during the summer of extreme heat and UV danger so it is even more important to limit exposure during the peak hours of the day.
·         Don’t use tanning beds or sun lamps. These give out UVA and UVB rays that cause damage to skin cells. Long term use can cause skin damage and even lead to skin cancer.

Children spend more time outside during the summer months so make sure these sun safety measures become part of your daily routine to keep them protected. Sun protection is especially important for babies who cannot control their level of exposure to sun and depend on parents to provide for their needs. Even if you tend to not wear sunscreen or not take proper sun precautions, make sure you protect your children from the harmful rays of the sun.

For more information and helpful sun safety tips, visit: