The long days and warm nights of summer make playing outside a breeze, and Active for Life is full of fun outdoor ideas for families.
But playing in the summer sun doesn’t come without risks. It’s important for kids to have fun while:
- dressing for the weather
- taking breaks
- staying hydrated
Sun safety is for everyone, and teaching your child to be “sun smart” now will help protect them as they get older. Sun protection is necessary year-round, but especially in the summer. Consider the timing of outdoor activities since the sun’s UVB rays are strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Here are some sun safety tips to remember:
- Pay attention to the UV index. Sun protection is necessary when the UV Index is 3 or higher, and even when it’s cloudy.
- When playing outdoors, pick a place with shaded areas or a cooling centre nearby. If you can’t find a shady spot, use a sun umbrella or pop-up tent to make your own.
- One word: sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and apply it often. (Here are even more sunscreen safety tips.)
- Dress for weather. Even though the heat may make kids want to take layers off, it’s essential for them to wear “sun-smart” clothing made of loose cotton material, wide-brimmed hats, and UV-protective sunglasses.
- Hitting the beach or pool this summer? “Sun-smart” swimsuits and hats that are specially designed for water can help protect children from UV rays. Don’t forget to reapply after swimming and sweating too!
- Be aware of hot surfaces where kids play. Pavement, metal slides, and car doors all heat up in the sun and can burn skin. Tip: let the hose and sprinkler run for a minute as water inside the tubing can get really hot!
- Stay hydrated with water, popsicles, and freezies. Putting a pause on playtime can prove difficult, but offering a refreshing snack like watermelon or orange slices can make it easier.
- Pay particular attention to sensitive areas on children and apply sunscreen to ears, back of neck, tops of feet, nose, and around swimsuit edges. Use a lip balm with SPF 30 as well.
- Never leave a child inside a parked vehicle, no matter how long. Temperatures inside of a car are drastically hotter than those outside and consequences can be very dangerous.
- Babies require extra protection in the sun. (Read more about sun safety for infants.)
Other helpful links:
- HealthLink BC’s sun safety tips
- Canadian Dermatology Association’s Sunscreen FAQ
- Canadian Cancer Society’s tips for babies and kids
- Tips from the Canadian Paediatric Society
There’s no doubt that sun protection and sun safety are necessary, but it would be naïve to ignore the benefits of sunlight, especially during the summer. Sun exposure boosts vitamin D production and mood, which is partly why playing outside and experiencing nature is so enjoyable.
With any activity should come precautions, and being alert to changes in heat and health is important. Being informed about heat illness can help children keep cool for the summer.
Related Read: 15 ways to keep kids cool this summer
This article was originally published by Active for Life, a national initiative created to help parents raise physically literate children. At activeforlife.com, parents, educators, and coaches will find fun activities, engaging articles, and free resources to get kids active, healthy and happy. Sign up for Active for Life’s monthly newsletters. Connect with Active for Life on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.