Sun Safety

You can protect your family and still have fun under the sun.

  • Cover up. When the UV Index is 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat made from breathable fabric. When you buy sunglasses, make sure they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

  • Limit your time in the sun. Keep out of the sun and heat between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The UV index in Canada can be 3 or higher during those times. When your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Look for places with lots of shade, like a park with big trees, partial roofs, awnings, umbrellas or gazebo tents. Always take an umbrella to the beach.

  • Use the UV Index forecast. Tune in to local radio and TV stations or check online for the UV index forecast in your area. When the UV index is 3 or higher, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy.

  • Use sunscreen. Put sunscreen on when the UV index is 3 or higher. Use sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” with an SPF of at least 30.

  • Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty. If sunny days are also hot and humid, stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat illness. Dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body) is dangerous, and thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.

  • Avoid using tanning equipment. There is no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan. Using tanning equipment damages your skin and increases your risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

BCHU Sun Safety Tips Video | Check Your Skin Video

Protecting children from the harmful effects of the sun is extremely important. Encouraging outdoor activity is a great way to ensure children get the exercise they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle; but regardless of the weather we need to practice smart sun sense when it comes to protecting your child when they are outside and being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

The ABC’s of UV:

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a form of invisible high-energy light produced by the sun or artificial tanning sources such as indoor tanning beds. There are three kinds of UV rays:

UV-A is the weakest form, but can still cause skin damage, including sunburn, and skin aging. It can also damage outdoor plastics and paint.

UV-B is much stronger than UV-A. It is the main cause of sunburns and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. UV-B also reduces the growth of plants and may affect the health of domestic animals and wildlife. The ozone layer absorbs much of the UV-B that enters our atmosphere, but not all of it. The UV Index measures the sun-burning portion of the UV-B rays that reach the Earth’s surface.

UV-C is extremely powerful. Fortunately, it is completely absorbed by the ozone layer and never reaches the Earth’s surface.

If we do not practice sun safety with our children, the possibility of them experiencing damage from the sun is possible. Not only can the sun burn a child’s skin fairly easily causing skin damage, it can also cause eye problems, and create long-term effects that could potentially develop into skin cancer in later years.

Helpful Hints to Stay Sun Safe!

For babies 6 months and older, apply sunscreen on skin not covered by clothes or a hat. Choose a sunscreen that is labelled SPF 30 or higher, “broad spectrum” (UVA/UVB protection) and “water resistant”. Do not forget the neck, nose, ears, back of legs and tops of feet. For babies under 6 months old, check with a health care provider before using sunscreen.

  • Put on sunscreen 15-30 minutes before your child goes outside and reapply every 2 hour or more often especially after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect the top of your child’s head and create shade for the face.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV 400 or 100% UV protection to help protect the eyes from the damaging effects of the sun
  • Wear long sleeved, light-coloured shirts and long pants when possible. The less skin that is exposed to the sun the better.
  • Lip balm with SPF?30 will prevent the lips from being burned.
  • Check the UV index and avoid the sun during peak times (11a.m.- 3p.m.) when the sun is the strongest.
  • Seek shade or make your own by using an umbrella or pop-up shade shelter. Keep babies out of direct sunlight.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty.

If your child is enrolled in daycare or a summer camp program; parents should be aware of the type of sun safety policy that is in place. This will ensure your child will be properly protected from the sun when they are out of your care.

Teaching children to be sun safe for all seasons is an important part of their growth and development. If children learn to protect themselves from the sun at an early age, they are more likely to continue to be aware and protect themselves from the harmful effects of UV rays as adolescents and adults. Remember, children learn best by example. Protect yourself and your family, by role modelling sun protective habits yourself.

There is a common misconception  that indoor tanning is a “safe” way to tan and that using a tanning bed is not as harmful as being exposed to sunlight.  Paying for beauty with one’s health seems like an unreasonable cost. But that’s the price some will pay for that coveted sun-kissed look – by using tanning beds. Young people in particular are among the most vulnerable to the cancer-causing effects of ultraviolet (UV) exposure. UV rays from tanning equipment can be up to 14 times  higher than that of the midday sun in summer.

Before you decide to use a tanning bed you need to know the facts:

  •  Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and indoor tanning devices are carcinogenic (cancer causing).
  •  It is illegal for people under 18 to use tanning beds in Ontario.
  •  Young people are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV rays.
  •  Using indoor tanning devices before the age of 35 increases melanoma by 59%
  • Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
  • The earlier you start tanning, and the more you do it, the greater the risk of skin cancer.
  • Any tan or change in skin colour is a sign of skin damage.

Just ONE indoor tanning session can increase the risk of skin cancer with evidence that risk increases with greater frequency.

Exposure to UV rays can also lead to:

  • Wrinkles
  • Skin damage
  • Sunburns
  • Premature skin aging
  • Retinal burns
  • Cataracts
  •  Eye lesion
  • Weakened immune system

Common Indoor Tanning Myths as per the Canadian Cancer Society

  • “Having a tan is healthy” – No it is not.  Tanned skin can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.  If you really want a tan, try a sunless tanning product.  Don’t forget that when you’re using a fake tanning product, you still need to use sunscreen when out in the sun.
  •  “My tan protects me from the sun.” – Nope!  A tan offers almost no protection from sunlight or burning.  Some tannin g beds can expose you to 5 times more radiation than the sun.  Getting a tan from a tanning bed doesn’t protect you from the sun – it does more harm than the sun.
  •  “I’ll get my vitamin D by going to the tanning salon.” – Tanning beds are not a safe way to get your vitamin D.  It is safer to get it from your diet and by taking vitamin supplements.
  • “Tanning provides relief for health issues.”  – There are certain disorders that can be treated by UV light – for example, some skin conditions and arthritis – but treatment should only be done by a healthcare professional.  For seasonal affective disorder (SAD), light therapy may be recommended.  But treatment for SAD uses white light, not UV light.  Indoor tanning is not recommended to treat SAD.

Before you tan ask yourself; is it really worth it?

Indoors or outdoors, there is no safe way to tan!  Reduce your risk of skin cancer and UV related health risks by being sun safe and avoiding tanning equipment.




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