Sun Safety Tips

28
Jun
2013


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Welcome to the 30 Days of Summer – Go-To Guide for Moms!

Day Twenty Eight

You can never be too careful when it comes to sun safety for your family.  Having a fun day outside can quickly turn into an unpleasant afternoon if you are not careful with precautions.  Living in Seattle has it’s benefits with obviously less sunny days, but just having returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico and it’s 100 degree days, it is important to be prepared and have a plan of protection.  I was the mom running around with hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and water!

Sun protection is an essential part of any outdoor activity because the sun produces invisible rays known as ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB), which cause sunburn and sun damage. Harmful UV rays are more intense in the summer, which makes right now the perfect time for parents to develop their summer sun care strategy.

Today I will share some general tips for sun safety and tomorrow I will share with you my review of some sunscreens that I’ve been using over the past few weeks.  I researched only products that were non-chemical sunscreens and then purchased a few that I thought would be a good fit for me and my family.  If you are interested in learning more, make sure you come back to check out what I discovered.

Shade

We all know that sunscreen is essential for protection against harmful rays. However, the number one rule when it comes to sun safety for kids is to stay out of the sun altogether – sunscreen should only be used as a last resort, and not as an excuse to stay in the sun for longer!

Be a shade seeker-Duck the sun’s rays the obvious way: Stay in the shade whenever possible.  Try to seek shade or create it with an umbrella between the hours of 10 am – 4 pm when the sun is at it’s strongest.

beach umbrellaI am so excited to try out my new Sport-Brella Umbrella – Portable Sun and Weather Shelter this week at the beach.  We are having our family get-a-way to the beach cottage for the 4th of July, so will be the perfect time to try it out. It arrived a few days ago and we’ve played with it in our yard, but the real test will be out on the beach in the elements.

 

I feel this will be critical in being able to hang out at the beach for the entire day, providing shade and protection from the wind.  With my incredible sun sensitivity from Lupus, being at the beach for the entire day is almost impossible, but with my little shelter I just may be in heaven!  I will share more on this after we use it on the beach.

Sunscreen

It can be difficult to keep kids in the shade for very long, so be sure to protect them with sunscreen while they’re playing outdoors.   My little guy wants to be where the action is – playing in the sand and running down chasing the kites!  Wearing a natural mineral sunscreen is your best defense and I will go into more detail on this tomorrow.  It requires a single post all it’s own!

Clothing

Another easy way to protect your children from the sun is through the clothing they wear.

Clothing is the single most effective form of sun protection

It is an effective first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.  Clothes can protect your skin against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, but not all clothing is created equal. The tightness of the weave, the weight, type of fiber, color and amount of skin covered all affect the amount of protection they provide.

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with ‘UPF’.  UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed. A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through, meaning the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly, because only 2 percent of the UV rays will get through.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is the rating you’re familiar with for sunscreens and other sun-protective products. It measures the amount of time it takes for sun-exposed skin to redden, while UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches the skin.

As a rule, light-colored, lightweight and loosely-woven fabrics do not offer much protection from the sun. If you slip on a white T-shirt  when you feel the sting begin on your skin while outside provides only moderate protection from sunburn, with an average ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 7. But a long-sleeved dark denim shirt offers an estimated UPF of 1,700 – which amounts to a complete sun block.

In general, clothing made of tightly-woven fabric best protects skin from the sun. The easiest way to test if a fabric can protect your skin is to hold it up to the light. If you can see through it, then UV radiation can penetrate it – and your skin.

You can buy specific clothing for the sun, sold with a UPF rating to help determine how much sunlight gets through. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends choosing clothing with a UPF rating of 30 or above. You should use sunscreen in combination with standard clothing to get maximum protection against the sun’s rays.

There are sites that specialize in sun protective clothing, like Coolibar, REI, and Sunday Afternoons.  One thing I’ve found over the years – it is better for me to wait and spend a higher dollar amount on good quality than buy a lower priced, less effective item.  This can be so true of so many things, so as you consider where you might need to up your game in sun safety, remember, buying perhaps one quality piece of sun gear each year per family member will be better in the long run than less quality and more quantity.

Hat

If we are going to be outside for any length of time, I start by making sure everyone is wearing a sun hat.  Now, I cannot force my teens to do anything and it is time they get to make those choices themselves, but hey – I can still try to be ‘mom’!

Hats protect vulnerable areas such as the face, ears and neck (that are often missed by sunscreen).  Plus if you have wiggly little ones who don’t like to sit still for sunscreen application, a hat is an easy one.  A simple baseball cap is better coolibar-hatthan nothing, but if you can find a hat with a small brim that goes all the way around, that is even better.

I especially like this Marina Sun Hat – I’ve had it for a couple years and it wears well and actually looks kinda cute.  It packs great and provides good coverage without going overboard.

Sunglasses

Your kids should be wearing sunglasses too! Long term exposure to the sun can increase the chance of cataracts, so make sure your kids are protected with sunglasses offering 100% UV protection (not just any darkened lenses).

child-sunglassesI just picked up this pair of Julbo Kid’s Looping Sunglasses with Cord for my 3 year old.  I love that they don’t have hinges, if you’ve had regular sunglasses before, you know that kids find it fun to play with them, hinged ones get broken very quickly.  This pair also has a loop to keep them on too, which is handy for kid who are active – which mine is!

I also saw this pair of Julbo Solan Kids Sunglasses for older kids too.  Sunglasses can be pricey,children's-sunglasses
but if you purchase a good quality pair, they will likely last you longer and protect your child’s eyes better.

If your child really won’t wear sunglasses then a wide-brimmed hat is another option.

Water

camelbak-water-bottleDrink plenty of water on a hot day, either in your backyard pool, or at the beach. You want to avoid any form of dehydration.  Remember my favorite water bottles I talked about earlier?  I much prefer using a water bottle for each child that can be re-used and re-filled rather than cases of water from the store.  Just my preference.

If you and your family are participating in any physical activity, make sure you are all well hydrated. Drink liquids every 20 minutes.
  If it’s really hot and your perspiring, reduce your activity to fifteen minutes. Keeping an eye on your kiddos and their activity level is important and help them determine if they are getting too hot.  The moment you or anyone becomes dizzy or flushed make sure you sit down, go to a shaded area, and drink water until your body has a chance to cool down.

Sun safety for kids is even more important than for adults. A child’s skin is especially delicate, and overexposure to the sun in early years can have a huge impact on their risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Remember, the sun’s rays can still do harm even on a cloudy day, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Are you ready for a sunny summer?

 

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