Guardian Childcare & Education

How to Stay SunSmart This Summer

5th October 2017

Spring has sprung and with it, the sun is starting to get stronger. As we all head outdoors to soak it up, bear in mind that with the warm comes a warning: skin cancer is Australia’s most common cancer. That means that being SunSmart starts when you’re small and becomes second nature in order to stay with you through life. During the height of summer, 15 minutes in the sun can overexpose your precious skin to UV and put you at risk of damage. We’ve put together some details to help you stay well-schooled in raising SunSmart children.

Understanding UV

In Australia, overexposure to UV is the leading cause of skin cancer. Because we can’t see it or even feel it, UV is indistinguishable, but no less dangerous. Because it’s out of sight, out of mind – prevention becomes our primary tool of protection. It might come as a surprise that UV isn’t only a concern when the sun is shining; cool and cloudy days pose a peril too. Make a blanket rule: whether you’re walking to school, swimming in the surf or spectating sport – always account for the risk of UV. It’s not just your skin that you need to keep safe, your eyes are also in danger of damage. The harm that UV causes to children’s eyes is cumulative, so establishing SunSmart practises early on is essential. Check out The Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app where you can see what time of day UV levels are stronger, as well as sending yourself reminders to shield you and your family from the sun.

SunSmart Strategies

Your children are always watching you. They take their cues and learning around how to respond and thrive from your actions and attitude. This means that you’re their greatest teacher when it comes to being safe in the sun – so set a SunSmart example.

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide. This is the SunSmart statement to live by. Slip on and cover up with your protective clothes and make sure you slop on your sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside. Slap on a hat that shades your face, neck, head and ears and seek out some soothing shade to set up under. Lastly, always slide on a pair of Australian approved sunnies.

Getting children to join you in these sunny pursuits can be akin to asking pigs to fly. Work out some clever ways to get them involved; let them choose their favourite sunscreen that feels good on their skin. Make sure you’ve got a surplus of sunscreen always on hand and keep some in sight near the front door so it can prompt you to be prepared. Consider clipping a small bottle onto your bag and stock up with a spare in your car.

Gearing up the children for a day in the sun can be difficult. If you keep at it, the payoff will be well protected children that have SunSmart strategies and can enjoy the sun without risking their skins.

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