Australia is renowned for its beautiful beaches, offering sand, sun, splashes and fun. They are a family favourite location for outings on a warm summer day but they can also be super dangerous. Around 16,000 people get diagnosed with melanoma each year in Australia and of those 16,000, an estimated 1,300 will lose their lives. Melanoma is the leading type of cancer affecting young adults so it is essential to teach our children sun-safety from childhood. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe while having fun in the sun:
Seek the Shade:
Shade offers some UV protection, especially dense shade that provides a dark shadow. Shade does not provide full-proof protection from UV radiation though, so always ensure your child is wearing sunscreen, protective clothing and a wide-brim hat.
“Building a pergola in your yard is a fantastic way to optimise your area of shade,” says pergola building company The Little Project Builder, “Pergolas are great because you can attach curtains to them to form a breezy hang out for you and your child”.
If you can’t seek natural shade you can make your own with an umbrella, tent or sunshade. For children in prams opt for a canopy or shade cloth that still allows for air flow, always monitor the temperature to ensure the child doesn’t overheat.
When travelling in cars it is super important to provide shade for children. Using window shades and applying sunscreen even for car rides will help to prevent sun damage.
Wear Protective Clothing:
You may be surprised to learn that, just like sunscreen, you can purchase children’s clothing that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). These clothing items give your children optimal protection when they have a rating of 50+.
Rash vests are fantastic because they give your children a layer of protection even when they swim. Sunscreen filters UV radiation but won’t completely block it out so wearing sun-protective clothing will add a second line of defence.
Wide brimmed hats that protect the face, ears and neck, loose fitting, tightly woven clothing and sunglasses are other apparel options that can help protect against UV rays.
“Wearing items like rash vests can also be a great way to protect your children’s skin from irritation and chafing from life jackets or boogie boards” says WSC Australia who specialise in water-related merchandise.
Slather in Sunscreen:
Sunscreen should be applied all over the body with special attention on parts of the body not covered by clothes like the face, neck, back of ears and hands. The higher the sun protection factor (SPF) the better but at minimum 30+ should be used.
“Broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen is best for use at the beach” recommend the aquatics experts from Aus Leisure, “You should apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours in accordance with The Cancer Council’s Guidelines”.
Keep your sunscreen cool and always check the use by date before applying to ensure it’s effective. For more information on sunscreen usage including best practice for babies under 6 months click here.
Schedule Around The Sun:
You should aim to reduce your outdoor time between 10am and 2pm (or 11am to 3pm during daylight savings) to minimise sun exposure. These hours are when the sun is most intense.
Teach Your Kids to Check Their Skin:
Once your kids are old enough you should teach them how to do skin checks. Instilling practices like skin checks when children are young will help them to develop lifelong habits.
“Studies show that children develop their routines and habits before the age of 9 so implementing sun safety practices before that age will help to influence your child’s behaviour later in life” says life coach Jeanine Sciacca.