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We all need some sun exposure — it’s the top source of vitamin D, which helps our bodies absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. But it doesn’t take much time in the sun for most people to get the vitamin D they need. And repeated unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and skin cancer. Most kids get much of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it’s important for parents to teach them how to enjoy fun in the sun safely.
Sun protection should begin in infancy and continue throughout life. Damage by UV rays could become more severe with repeated exposure; so a lifelong habit of proper sun protection is important.
Begin to teach your children to follow the ‘ ABC’s of Fun in the Sun’.
A—Stay away from the sun especially in the middle of the day; plan indoor activities then. Seek shade under a tree, an umbrella or a pop up tent. These options help to prevent sunburn and not seek relief afterwards.
B—Block the sun with water resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 that provides broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. Apply to all exposed skin. Don’t forget to protect ears, nose, lips, and the tops of feet. Take sunscreen with you to reapply during the day, especially after your child swims or exercises. This applies to waterproof and water-resistant products as well. Even on cloudy, cool, or overcast days, UV rays travel through the clouds and reflect off sand, water, and even concrete. Clouds and pollution don’t filter out UV rays, and they can give a false sense of protection. This “invisible sun” can cause unexpected sunburn and skin damage. Often, kids are unaware that they’re developing sunburn on cooler or windy days because the temperature or breeze keeps the skin feeling cool on the surface.
C – Put on Clothing such as long sleeved shirts, pants, long skirts, hats and sunglasses when possible. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer best protection. Darker colours offer better protection that light coloured clothes. Wet clothes offer less protection than dry ones. Some clothing has Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) certification. Hats that cover the scalp, ears, neck and face give greater protection. Purchase a hat with a wide brim that casts a shadow on the face. Children tend to prefer baseball caps; be sure to protect the exposed areas like ears, neck with sunscreen then. Sunglasses protect your child’s eyes from harmful UV rays which can lead to cataract later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block nearly 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Toy or fashion-labelled sunglasses do not meet the requirements for sunglasses and should not be used for sun protection.
When buying a pram, check that the hood can be adjusted, so that it can be moved to block out the direct sun. For the best protection, pram shade covers should completely cover the pram and be made of densely woven fabric that combines a mesh section – so the baby can see and air can circulate – and a shade fabric section. The fabric section should block close to 100% of UV radiation (UPF50+) and the mesh section should block at least 70% of UV radiation (UPF3.3).

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