Sun safety for youth

Youth development workers: explore know what kind of sunscreen to keep on hand, tips for staying safe during hot weather and what resources exist for educating others about sun safety programs.

Although summer is coming to an end and fall will be upon us soon, we still need to remember the importance of keeping sunscreen on hand during late summer and early fall programming. If you are a youth development worker who loves to be outdoors with kids, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind: know what kind of sunscreen to keep on hand, tips to staying safe during hot weather and what resources exist for educating others about sun safety programs.

It’s important to remember that if you are applying sunscreen to any youth during a summer program, you must obtain written permission from a parent/guardian. Sunscreens often contain different ingredients that youth can be allergic to, so it’s important to alert parents to your plan for keeping their child safe while being active in the sun.

Sunscreen is essential for a youth development worker to keep on hand when working with youth outdoors. The Center for Disease Control recommends using sunscreen that has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and protects from UVB and UVA rays. There are several options for convenient application of sunscreen including sticks, gels, lotions and sprays. Furthermore, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours or more frequently after swimming or sweating heavily.

Don’t forget that the hottest part of the day is from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. because this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you can’t avoid being in the sun during this time of day, consider the following tips for keeping kids safe:

  • Look for shade. Try to keep youth in the shade when doing outdoor programming.
  • Have water available. It’s important to keep youth properly hydrated while learning outdoors; take several water breaks.
  • Encourage youth to wear clothing that is light in color and weight, yet covers the skin. This can include the use of floppy brimmed hats.
  • Apply sunscreen with an appropriate SPF often.

There are several sun safety educational programs that are designed for youth, parents and caregivers. These programs offer a variety of delivery methods in settings that include after-school programs, day cares, community outreach and schools. Examples of sun safety educational programs include:

  • SunWise” from the United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Sun Safety” Alliance and Crème de la Crème Early Childcare Project
  • Sun Smart U” from the Skin Cancer Foundation
  • Sun Safety for America’s Youth Toolkit” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Be Sun Smart, Play Sun Smart” developed by Sue Elliot in consultation with the National Schools and Early Childhood Working Group, Cancer Council Australia. Revised by Anne Stone house, Justine Osborne and Prue Lane.

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