The only certain way to protect yourself from the sun is to stay indoors all the time, away from the windows. However, that is not realistic!
Sun safety is therefore something that you can start teaching your children from an early age. By instilling a healthy respect of the sun from an early age, you are setting them up for a lifetime of improved health.
Here are some ways to begin protecting your children from the sun:
- Apply sunscreen at all times
It is quite normal for people to use sunscreen when they know that they will be spending a day at the beach, but not as common when they are going outdoors for a short time in the summer, on a cloudy day, or even in the winter. It is important to realize that even incidental sun exposure can result in damage to the skin.
Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (for protection against both UVA and UVB) with a minimum SPF 15 every time you and your children are going outdoors. In fact, the Sun Safety Alliance recommends that children use nothing lower than a SPF 30. In addition, be sure to look for sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide.
Reapply every 90 minutes to two hours, or sooner if sweating or swimming.
- Seek shaded shelter
Find a tree or use an umbrella or cabana to seek shelter from the sun. This still requires that you use sunscreen as you and your children will still be exposed to the sun’s rays that reflect, but at least you are cutting down some of the direct exposure.
- Wear sunglasses
The rays of the sun damage the eyes, which can result in corneal burns (sunburn of they eye’s surface). In later life, the cumulative effects of sun damage can also result in cataracts and/or macular degeneration of the eyes. So be sure to teach your children the importance of wearing sunglasses from an early age.
Choose sunglasses with 100% UV protection, and wear them even on days when it is not sunny. The sun’s rays can bounce off snow and pavement, just as easily as they do off of sand and water.
- Avoid those times of the day when the UV radiation is at its highest
This will vary on where you live. For example, if you are closer to the equator, the UV rays are more direct there throughout the day. In general though, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the times of the day to avoid as the sun is higher in the sky then.
- Wear large-brimmed hats and tightly-woven fabrics
Hats will protect the scalp, ears, and neck.
When looking for tightly-woven fabrics that will help protect your children from the sun, be sure to hold up the fabric up to the light to ensure that light is unable to pass through it. If light does not pass through it, then you also know that the sun’s rays cannot as easily.