12 December 2011
As summer is fast approaching and families are spending more time outside, it’s important to remember the sun safety messages and protect young children from sunburn.
A few minutes of gentle sunlight is good for growing children, and helps them produce vitamin D. However children can burn quickly in the sun as their delicate skin is vulnerable to sunburn. ‘Gentle’ sunlight is the light during the early morning and later afternoon through the summer months, and at most times during the winter.
Sue Campbell, Plunket’s National Child Safety Advisor offers some sun safety reminders as we head into summer.
“New Zealand summers can be a fantastic time for family but the sun can be harsh. We need to remember to slip, slop, slap and wrap”, says Sue. “Slip on a shirt, slop on some SPF30+ sunscreen, slap on a hat with a brim, and wrap on some sun glasses.
“Sunburn can cause painful burns, and lead to long-term skin damage and a higher risk of skin cancer later in life. People often don’t realise you can still get burnt on a cloudy day in New Zealand,” says Sue.
Plunket’s top tips for keeping safe in the sun this summer
• Making sure young children always wear hats with wide brims or caps with flaps when they are outside
• Keeping them protected with clothes that cover their arms, legs and bodies
• Restricting the amount of time they spend playing in direct sunlight - the hours between 11am and 4pm are the most dangerous
• Using sunscreen on exposed parts of the body. Talk to your pharmacist about the most suitable sunscreen for your child. Remember sunscreens do have an expiry date and most need to be reapplied after swimming
• Keeping babies in the shade at all times as their young skin is very vulnerable and can burn quickly
• Protecting children in prams and buggies. Keep their eyes shaded from the sun, their skin covered and use a sun shade on the buggy whenever possible.