Keep Out Of The Sun (Pros and Cons)

child-playing-on-beach-Childventures-keepoutofthesunChildren spend a great amount of time outdoors. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association (2011), the most harmful effects of sun exposure occur during early childhood. Studies have indicated that people who have suffered severe and frequent sunburns during childhood are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer later in life (Health Canada, 2006). The Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Dermatology Association both identify the use of shade as a key strategy to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

Shade does more than protect children’s skin. A growing number of advocates say it also may help kids stay more active. At a time when one-third of children are obese or overweight, a movement is growing to provide more shade at playgrounds, parks and pools, both to reduce future cancer risk and promote exercise. If you are going out, consider doing the following:

  • Locate play equipment in areas that is densely shaded when children are most likely to play
  • Help encourage children to identify shady areas for games and play time
  • Try to avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Apply SPF 30+ broad spectrum & water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out into the sun, then reapply every 2 hours, especially after being in the water or sweating a lot

Morning is the coolest time of day. Encourage outside play while the day still holds some of the cool air from the previous night. This might also be the best time for running or riding a bike. If there is no shade available, consider constructing your own tent with a blanket, tarp or sheet stretched out over a clothesline so that air can still circulate freely underneath.

Guessing games are fun and sometimes easier than board games for outside play. Children love to watch the clouds and surroundings. Writing in a journal, listening to audiobooks or music can also be right for those hot summer days in the shade. You may also decide that indoors is the best time during the hottest hours. Here are some ideas of things to do:

  • Snuggle and read a book
  • Build with blocks, Lego or other fun materials
  • Color, paint, draw or write a creative story with pictures about a hot day or cool winter experience
  • Mold, sculpt or create with play dough or clay

Whatever children choose to do on a hot summer day, heat safety is a consideration. Heat and sun can make a child sick or cause them to suffer from heat stroke, dehydration, or sunburn. Children should be encouraged to beat the heat by playing in the shade, drinking lots of fluids, eating cool water-rich treats, and staying inside during the hottest daytime hours. Children are always going to be on the go, protect them carefully and teach them healthy habits for the future.

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