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Stay Safe on Sunny Days

Spring is finally here, and the Cancer Center's SunSafe program is a great tool for learning how to minimize the risks of too much sunshine while enjoying sunshine's welcome goodness.

At last, the sun is out!

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Reducing sunburns and exposure to UV radiation among children under age 18 can prevent 90 percent of skin cancers later in life.

The long New England winters, even a mild winter such as this past one, can lull a person into believing that all weather meanders merely from one cold shade of gray to another. But then spring finally arrives and it's as if someone kicked over a hundred paint buckets: bright color spills from every surface the eye lands on, it seems. Especially from up in the blue, blue sky.

The Risk of Skin Cancer

But as welcome as the sunshine and longer days are, they also carry a cancer risk. Rates of malignant melanoma and other skin cancers are rising in the United States, and childhood sunburns may be the cause. In fact, reducing sunburns and exposure to UV radiation among children under age 18 can prevent 90 percent of skin cancers later in life.

Everyone needs to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun, no matter what their age or skin color. For several reasons, it is especially important to protect the skin of those least able to request it -- babies and children. Not only do children have delicate skin, they have many more years ahead of them to receive damaging solar rays. Children also spend much more time outdoors than adults. Therefore sun protection in childhood and the early adoption of healthy sun habits are key to preventing skin cancer later in life.

SunSafe Kids
SunSafe logo

The Cancer Center's SunSafe programs are free and available for preschools, schools, sports teams, town recreation programs, parents, and health care providers to use to promote sun protection among children.

To help parents and children learn how to cope with the dangers of sunlight while still enjoying outside activities, researchers at Norris Cotton Cancer Center and The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, supported by the National Cancer Institute, have developed two "SunSafe" programs – SunSafe for the Early Years (for children aged 2-9 years) and SunSafe for the Middle School Years – that are free and available for preschools, schools, sports teams, town recreation programs, parents, and health care providers to use to promote sun protection among children. Both programs offer teachers, principals, coaches, lifeguards, clinicians, and parents fun and educational ways to learn about UV radiation and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

The A-B-C's of Sun Safety

The Cancer Center's SunSafe materials offer comprehensive information about the risks of too much sun on the skin and how to minimize those risks. But there's also a simple way parents, teachers, and children can remember how to stay safe from the sun's harmful effects while still enjoying all the goodness sunshine provides. It's as simple as A, B, C!

Avoid or limit exposure during the sun's peak hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Try to schedule outdoor activities in the early morning.or late afternoon. Teach your child to seek shade if he or she is outside during peak hours. ("Eleven to three, stay under a tree.")

Block the sun's rays through the use of a sunscreen having an SPF of 15 or higher. Be sure to put sunscreen on all areas not covered up.

Cover-up with clothing and a hat with a brim. Wear a short-sleeved shirt and long shorts that go to the knee.

The Cancer Center's Melanoma / Skin Cancer Program provides advanced, research-based care, from expert examination and staging using molecular testing and imaging to the newest therapies, including those being tested in clinical trials. Click here for more information.

May 21, 2012