Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors, and children in particular make the most of the season’s long, sunny days. However, the extensive sun exposure that many of them receive can be a health hazard, since the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes sunburn and skin damage that can lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer.
As a parent, you may believe that keeping your children safe from the sun means sacrificing outdoor activities. This is simply not the case. In fact, introducing and encouraging sun protection habits will enable your loved ones to enjoy the outdoors safely — now, and in the future. Promote sun safety in your child’s environment by speaking to your child’s caregivers about the importance of shade. Encourage camp counselors, babysitters, and other parents to seek shade when outdoors with your children. Gazebos, fabric shade sails, and leafy trees with dense canopies, for example, all can greatly reduce UV exposure. Also, limit your child’s outdoor activities during the sun’s peak hours (between 10 AM and 4 PM). Seeking shade and avoiding the sun at its most intense will also help keep youngsters cool and comfortable, despite the heat. You can also protect your children by encouraging the use of sunscreen and sun-safe clothes. One recent study found that simply by using sunscreen regularly, children can reduce the risk of skin cancer development by 78 percent. By using sunscreen along with sun-protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, your child will be well-armored in the fight against skin cancer.
Of course, most parents know that the best way to instill healthy habits in a child is to model healthy behaviors. Protect yourself from the sun by following The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Guidelines; this will help encourage your child to do the same.
By taking a few precautions, you can help your children enjoy healthy, active lives without risking their skin. Have a happy, healthy, sun-safe summer.
Published on August 24, 2011