House Call: Summer safety in the sun

Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Welcome back to UHC’s House Call on WDTV. In the final part of our five part series, Summer Safety for Kids, Dr. John Backus, Director of Emergency Medicine Operations at UHC, joins us to talk about summer safety tips and ways to keep children safe and healthy while enjoying their summer.

1. Why do sunburns increase a child’s risk of skin cancer later in life?

Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Adults and children need protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they are outdoors. A child’s skin, as well as an adult’s skin. needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they are outdoors, remember to do the following:

  • Cover up. Clothing covering you and your child’s skin helps protect against UV rays
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 30 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

2. What is important to remember when it comes to sunscreen?

  • Use a sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Do not forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.
  • Reapplication of sunscreen is important. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Sunscreen does have an expiration date. Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years.
  • Remember that sunscreen is not an all-protective force field. It is intended to be combined with other sun-safety approaches.

3. What other precautions should parents or guardians take to protect their child’s skin from harmful UV rays?

  • Infants and children up to four years of age are at greatest risk from the sun’s rays, so please keep the following safety precautions in mind:
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open,
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing,
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, preferably for morning and evening hours,
  • Take cool showers or bath, and
  • Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.

The following points are important for children of all ages, as well as adults:

  • Seek shade when necessary. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent.
  • When possible, cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts to provide protection from UV rays.
  • Wear a hat that shades the face, scalp, ears, and neck. If your child chooses a baseball cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses as these protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life.

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