Sun Safety

Author: Kathy Alexander

The sun is an important part of our lives. Exposure to the sun allows our bodies to produce Vitamin D which is needed to help absorb calcium for strong healthy bones. Generally, we get 50-80% of our sun exposure by the time we reach age 18, therefore, it is important that parents teach children how to stay in the sun safely.
Try to avoid prolonged periods in the sun when its at its highest in the sky. This is the time the sun can do the most damage to your skin. In the United States, that is generally between 10am and 4pm. If you are out during this period, make sure you are protected with sunscreen. Even kids playing in the backyard need sunscreen. Most damage is done during incidental exposure and not while at the pool or beach.
Pay attention to the UV Index and follow the precautions as advised depending on the level. Information about the UV Index levels and precautions can be found at, the Environmental Protection Agencies website.
Even on cloudy overcast days, use sunscreen. The UV rays of the sun are the harmful rays, and they can penetrate the clouds. Many times the worst damage is done on these days because the heat of the sun doesn’t warm your skin, or a cool breeze may also keep the skin feeling cool, and you do not realize the damage until it is too late!
Covering up with clothing is a good way to protect your skin. Put your hand under the fabric, if you can see your hand, it will NOT provide adequate protection. You should not be able to see your hand for the fabric to block the harmful UV rays.
Sunscreen should not be applied to babies under the age of 6 months. Make sure if they have to be in the sun, they are covered with appropriate clothing and wearing wide brimmed hats or under adequate shade to also protect their faces.
Pay most attention to the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) when purchasing sunscreen. Children 6 months and older should wear at least a SPF of 15. The SPF tells you the amount of protection. If a child can stay in the sun for 20 minutes before burning, a SPF of 15 gives them 15 times the protection.
The sunscreen should also protect against UVA and UVB rays. This is often referred to as ‘broad-spectrum’ protection. Avoid sunscreens with PABA to avoid possible skin allergies, and if your child has sensitive skin, look for a brand with the active ingredient titanium dioxide which is a chemical-free block.
To use sunscreen correctly:
Use every time your child is in the sun
Apply 30 minutes prior to sun exposure
Apply generously
Reapply often, at least every 2-3 hours and after swimming or sweating
Use waterproof brands for swimming, but still reapply when out of the water
Don’t forget the eyes! Eyes can be harmed by the UV rays as well. Make sure children’s sunglasses protect 100% against UV rays.
Some medications can increase sensitivity to the UV rays, so be sure to ask your child’s doctor about any new medications that may be prescribed.
What to do if your child gets a sunburn?
Keep child in the shade. Any additional exposure will prolong healing and pain.
Take a cool bath to alleviate pain and heat.
Apply pure aloe vera gel.
Give your child a pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen and spray on over-the-counter “after-sun” pain relievers.
Apply topical moisturizing cream to hydrate the skin and promote healing. Do NOT use petroleum-based products, they will not let the heat and sweat escape.
Set the example for your children and be safe yourself. You are their role model and your actions will go much farther than your words when it comes to teaching your children how to behave safely.

About the Author

Kathy Alexander, Mother of four, Madison (3), Delaney(2), Courtney(2), and Wyatt(4 mos). She and her husband of 11 years live in Texas with their children. Protect Children! Teach Safety! 4 Kidz 4 Safety 'N More offers child safety products including photo identification, DNA & fingerprinting kits, books, games and charts at!


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