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Sun safety

The hot summer sun can be dangerous for children. Bad sunburns and too much time spent in the sun without skin protection have been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer later in life.

During the summer months, children can easily lose body fluid and become dehydrated. Children’s skin can also be burned by touching hot surfaces, such as pavement, metal slides or car doors.

How can I keep my child safe from the sun?

Avoid being in the sun for long periods of time at the start of the season. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend outdoors with your child over a period of several days. When possible, stay indoors or in the shade during the hottest time of the day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To prevent sunburn:

  • Always protect babies from the sun:
    • Limit sun exposure, especially during peak hours,
    • Cover your baby in loose clothing and make sure she’s wearing a hat,
    • Use a stroller sunshade to cover your baby,
    • Properly apply a small amount of sunscreen with SPF 30 on exposed areas.
  • Make sure favourite play areas have a shady spot or bring along a sun umbrella.
  • Your child should wear a sun hat with a wide brim and back flap, sunglasses with 100% UV protection ("broad spectrum") and loose cotton clothing to protect skin from the sun's rays.
  • Apply a sun block cream with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 on all areas of your child's skin that will be exposed to the sun. Use a lip balm with SPF 15 as well.
  • Remember to put sunblock on:
    • Ears.
    • Nose.
    • Back of neck and legs.
    • Tops of feet.
  • Reapply sunscreen after swimming and playing with water.

Encourage children to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.

Be alert for signs that a child is experiencing heat illness and needs to go inside. These include thirst, fatigue, leg or stomach cramps, and cool, moist skin, which can be a sign of heat exhaustion.

Most importantly, lead by example and remember to protect yourself from the sun as well.

Source: Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care (3rd edition)

Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Public Education Advisory Committee

Last Updated: June 2011