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Mom applying sunscreen to daughter while at poolSummer sun safety

Marilyn Preston, MA, former Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension


Whether you are going camping, going to the beach or simply heading out for little league games, it is more important than ever to remember sun safety. The American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer (American Cancer Society, 2016), and the sun’s rays can have a negative effect not only on skin but on the immune system and eyesight as well.


With all of this information, it is important to protect your family’s health. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with several important guidelines for sun safety that are easy to follow. Protecting your family is as simple as remembering two steps: Plan and Protect.


Plan ahead:

  • Plan outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the sun’s strongest rays, which happen between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • If you plan to be outside, make sure you put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going out so it has time to work on the skin.
  • Dress yourself and your family in clothes that protect against the sun. Hold the clothes up to the light to make sure they are made of tightly woven fabrics that will keep out the sun’s rays. Dress babies in light, long-sleeved clothes.
  • Hats and sunglasses help to keep the sun out of our eyes and to prevent sunburn on our scalps. Make sure that the hat shades the ears and neck too.
  • If your child goes to daycare, summer school or camp, remember to pack a bottle of sunscreen in his or her bag every day.


Protect your family:

  • Always use sunscreen with an SPF over 15. Look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label. Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Put on sunscreen again after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Remember to do this even if you use waterproof sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • Zinc Oxide is a safe sun block that can be applied to the nose, cheeks and shoulders to give extra protection.
  • Babies less than six months old should never be in direct sunlight. Keep them in the shade under trees, in strollers or under shelters.


Following these guidelines will help protect your family this summer while you enjoy the weather and have fun together!


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Last Updated 07/17/2017