Food Fun and Facts      Safety in the Sun

Tips for Practicing Sun Safety With Children

(NewsUSA) - With the arrival of warmer temperatures, heading for fun outside may be high on your list of priorities. But too much fun in the sun can be dangerous.

Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause serious health effects, including increased risk of skin cancer.

Children's skin in particular should be protected from the sun at all times. According to the National Children's Cancer Society, childhood is the critical period during which UV radiation can do the most damage. It takes only a few minutes for a child's skin to burn, and the damage is permanent and cumulative.

Children receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer often experience increased sensitivity to the sun. Adequate skin protection can reduce the risks of developing health problems later in life by up to 78 percent, according to medical researchers.

The National Children's Cancer Society encourages everyone to practice sun safety with the following tips:

* Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more about 20 minutes before exposure to the sun. Sunscreens with an SPF of 15 will block out 93 percent of UV rays.

Apply sunscreen in a thick layer and reapply every two hours or after swimming. Be aware that sunscreen has a shelf life of about two years. Sunscreen is not recommended for children under 6 months, so it's best to keep babies in the shade.

* Limit time spent in the sun and avoid the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Encourage your child to play in the shade.

* Wear a hat, preferably one that's wide-brimmed. If it doesn't cover the ears, be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed areas.

* Use sunglasses to protect eyes from exposure to UV light.

* Dress in protective clothing, including lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants when appropriate. When choosing fabrics, the closeness of the weave is the most crucial factor. For children, select SPF-rated garments with a minimum SPF of 30.

* Set a good example. Practice sun safety and your child will, too.

The National Children's Cancer Society says that sun safety is especially important for the growing population of childhood cancer survivors. For more information about health-promoting habits for cancer survivors, visit


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