It’s that time of year. After months of planning, families across the country are packing up and getting out of town for a warm-weather spring break adventure. Since many seek sunnier getaways, Anna Marsh-Belote, Parkview’s director of safety and emergency preparedness, has a host of spring break safety tips, many from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), for fun-filled days under those potentially dangerous rays.
Sun Safety for Babies
- Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats.
- It is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months if there is no way to avoid the sun. Remember it takes 30 minutes to be effective.
Sun Safety for Kids
- Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective.
- Try to find a wide-brimmed hat that can shade the cheeks, chin, ears and back of the neck. Sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection are also a good idea for protecting your child’s eyes.
- Apply sunscreen to areas of your child’s skin that aren’t covered by clothing. Before applying, test the sunscreen on your child’s back for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids. If a rash develops, talk with your pediatrician.
- If your child gets a sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician.
Sun Safety for the Family
- The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Be vigilant with protection during those peek hours.
- The sun’s damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, snow or concrete, so be particularly careful of these areas.
- Wear sun-protective clothing, like swim shirts.
- The sun’s rays do come through the clouds on overcast days, so use sun protection even on cloudy days.
- When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words "broad-spectrum" on the label; it means that the sunscreen will protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying. You may want to select a sunscreen that does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, a sunscreen chemical that may have hormonal properties.
- Zinc oxide, a very effective sunscreen, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears and on the shoulders.
- Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The additional benefits of using sunscreen with SPF 50+ are limited.
- Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet, hands and the backs of the knees.
- Put on sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors; it needs time to work.
- Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as an excuse to stay in the sun longer.