Keeping kids safe in the sun is essential to avoiding sun burns and long term health problems. Getting them to remember to put on sunscreen and keep a hat on their heads can next to impossible, however. Try these tips for keeping your kids safe from the sun this summer.
• Make them cover up. Cloth is a better sun shield than any lotion, but wearing the wrong kind of clothes can make kids too hot. Pick lightweight, cotton pants and shirts paired with tennis shoes for hiking and playing outside. If kids want to go in the water, make them wear a t-shirt to protect their shoulders and torso.
• Use a sunscreen with a high SPF. Despite popular thinking, a lower SPF will not help anyone to tan more, but it can get them burned faster. Also make sure the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. While most sunscreens on the market today meet this criteria, it’s a good idea to check some bargain brands and brands that are manufactured and sold outside of the United States.
• Throw away sunscreen after eighteen months. Some companies advise that their products are only good for a year. Applying sunscreen that has expired won’t hurt anyone, but it won’t help either.
• If possible, wear a hat. Hats protect the skin on top of the head as well as providing partial protection for the face. Since this is the area most prone to melanoma, it is critical to protect this part of a child. Getting kids to do this can be hard, but there are ways to convince them to do. Let them pick from a couple of different hats. Even if it doesn’t offer the best protection from the sun, having them actually wear it will be better than having them take it off the moment their parent is out of sight.
• Consider stick and spray sunscreens. While these are more expensive, they are a lot easier to apply to small children. Of course, do not use a spray on a baby, since it is next to impossible to avoid their eyes when spraying.
• Still protect children on cloudy days. While clouds provide a small amount of protection from the sun, they will not guarantee a child will not get burned.