Sun Safety for Summer

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Summertime is here and most families are quickly transitioning to spending lots of time outdoors. But along with the summer sun, comes special safety concerns. When children spend too much time in the sun, they are at risk for sunburn, dehydration and other sun sicknesses that can easily be prevented.

What can you do to assure your child stays safe in the summer sun?

Follow these 10 sun safety rules for summer.

1. Choose a proper sunscreen. Opt for a sunscreen that is labeled “broad spectrum” to provide your child with the best protection against UVA and UVB rays. Your selection should also have an SPF of 15 or higher. If your child will be spending time in the water, be sure to opt for a sunscreen labeled as “waterproof”.

2. Make sunscreen application part of your morning routine. Most likely your child will spend time outside on summer days, so consider applying sunscreen to your child before he gets dressed. This will help eliminate any missed spots and the rush to get the sunscreen applied. To apply to the face, put sunscreen on your hands and then rub it into the child’s face. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors so that it has time to absorb into the skin. For babies under 6 months of age, avoid direct sun exposure and dress them in protective clothing. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises using extreme caution when applying sunscreen to babies under 6 months of age and to only apply minimally to exposed areas.

3. Use Zinc Oxide for added protection on the nose, cheeks and ears of your children.

4. Insist that your child wear a hat with a brim. Many hats are now made with fabrics that offer protection from the sun’s rays. Waterproof fabrics are great because they can be worn all day, regardless of the activity.

5. Chose clothing for your children made of tightly woven fabrics or fabrics treated with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). These fabrics will help protect your child’s skin from the sun. To test if a fabric is tightly woven, hold it up to the light. If you can see through the fabric, UV rays can pass through. One Step Ahead (www.onestepahead.com) has an extensive collection of hats, swimwear and summer clothing that is treated with built in UPF 50 plus. This means that only 1/50th of the suns UV rays can pass through the fabric significantly reducing UV radiation exposure when worn.

6. Insist that your child sport sunglasses to protect her eyes from the sun. Choose shades that offer UV protection.

7. Limit exposure to the sun during peak sunshine hours. This is normally from 10 am until 4 pm.

8. Don’t mistake a cloudy day for a sun free day. UV rays travel through the clouds and can burn your child’s skin.

9. Take time in the shade. Tents, umbrellas and trees can provide time outs from the sun. Be sure to take frequent shade breaks during your time outdoors.

10. Keep your kids hydrated. Offer frequent water breaks and be sure your child drinks lots of water when playing outdoors.

Following these 10 summer sun safety rules can help you to protect your child from overexposure to the sun. If your child develops a sunburn, treat him with a cool bath, apply pure aloe vera gel and avoid bringing him into the sun. If the burn seems severe, call your child’s pediatrician. If your child seems sick after spending the day outside call your child’s pediatrician to rule out a sun related illness.

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