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Stay Safe in the Summer Sun

Kids Stay Safe in the Sun

Summer in East Tennessee means time spent at the lake, playing outside or enjoying the Smoky Mountains. It is important to stay active and spend time in the sun each day, but repeated or lengthy exposure to sunshine can cause skin, eye and immune system damage. It is especially important for children age 18 and younger to enjoy the sun safely. With some simple precautions, you can reduce your child's risk of developing skin cancer significantly.

  • Avoid the strongest rays of the day. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the sun is the strongest and most dangerous to children. Even on cloudy and cool days, the sun's rays travel through the clouds and can cause unexpected sunburns and damage. If your children have to be outside during this time, apply protective sunscreen throughout the day.

  • Cover up. Umbrellas, tents and hats are essential tools for long days spent outside or on the beach. Your child's skin is more vulnerable to sun than yours, so they need an extra layer of shade and protection. To see if your child's clothes will protect him from the sun, place your hand inside the garment and make sure you can't see it through the fabric.

  • Stay hydrated. The summer heat can cause babies and children to quickly lose more fluids than they take in. Watch this video of Diana Burdick, RN at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, explaining the signs and symptoms of dehydration:

  • Be smart about sunscreen. Sunscreen comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. Which one is best for your child? What matters most is the degree of protection it provides from UV rays. Concentrate on the SPF of your sunscreen when looking at labels. SPF 30 and higher will prevent dangerous sunburns and tanning. Sunscreen should also protect against UVA and UVB rays, which are called "broad-spectrum" sunscreens. Tanning lotion will not protect your child from dangerous sun exposure.

    To apply sunscreen correctly, put it on 15 to 20 minutes before your child goes outside. Apply it beneath bathing suit straps and on the hands, ears, lips and behind the neck. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours.

  • Double check medications. Some medications increase your child's sensitivity to the sun's rays, which can cause severe sunburns in just a few minutes. Ask your doctor if any prescription, especially antibiotics and acne medication, can increase your child's sun sensitivity.

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