Somerset County Council is encouraging parents to be ‘sunsmart’ to protect their children from the harmful effects of the sun this summer.
Exposing children to too much sun may significantly increase their risk of skin cancer later in life. Covering up, staying in the shade and using sunscreen are the best ways to protect children against the sun.
More people develop skin cancer in Somerset on average compared to the rest of the country. Somerset has the 14th highest incidence of skin cancer diagnosis compared to other areas in England and on average between 2013-15 there were 37 skin cancer deaths each year.
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health said: “Being out in the sunshine is a great way for children to be active and get the Vitamin D their bodies need. But parents need to make sure they know their children’s skin, don’t let them burn and if they’re outside for a while make sure they’re in the shade, covered up or wearing sunscreen.”
Councillor Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member with responsibility for health and wellbeing, said: “Whatever your age, the best way to enjoy the sun safely and protect your skin from sunburn is to use a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen. Children and teenagers might need a reminder or a helping hand, but setting a good example yourself is a great way to help them learn and get into good habits.
“And it’s not just when you’re on holiday abroad that you need to think about slapping on the sunscreen, the sun can be just as strong in the UK. People often get caught out when they’re not expecting it, like when out for a walk or playing in the garden.”
Six top safety tips to protect children in the sun:
• Spending some time every day playing outside with faces and arms uncovered will give children the Vitamin D that they need for strong bones. But parents need to make sure children don’t get too much sun and avoid sunburn.
• When the sun is strong encourage children to play in the shade – for example, under trees or a parasol – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
• Keep babies under six-months-old out of direct sunlight, especially around midday.
• Cover exposed parts of children’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use a high factor sunscreen (at least SPF 15, preferably 30 or above) that is effective against UVA and UVB. Don’t forget to apply it to their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and the tops of their feet and reapply often throughout the day.
• Cover children up in loose, baggy cotton clothes, such as an oversized t-shirt with sleeves or get them to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck.
• Protect children’s eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard and carry the “CE” mark (check the label or ask the manufacturer).
• If your child is swimming, use waterproof sunscreen and always reapply after towel drying.
For more advice on how to protect children in the sun, go to: www.somerset.gov.uk/skincancer
Cancer Research also has lots of advice about protecting children in the sunshine, visit their website: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org