Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Preventing Years of Damage: Sun Safety at the Height of Summer

While the Pacific Northwest is often known for clouds and rain, this summer has been one of the hottest and sunniest to date. While you are out and about, taking advantage of these fair-weather days, think about safety--especially if you are responsible for children during outings. 

In a press release last summer, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) stated, 
"Puget Sound, if it were a state by itself, would rank fourth in the nation for skin cancer rates. That’s because of a misconception that cloudy weather means people don’t have to protect themselves from the sun."
It is important to note that there doesn't necessarily have to be direct sunlight to cause damage to skin. DOH advises that protecting you and your family from skin cancer is something that must be done all year, regardless of whether it’s sunny or cloudy. According to DOH, Ultra Violet (UV) light exposure (the most preventable cause of skin cancer) occurs even on cloudy days.

Even though it is not common for children to be diagnosed with skin cancers, sun damage that occurs while children are young can have lasting effects, commonly, melanoma later in life.

One terrifying event recently made national news headlines. Two young boys were on an outdoor field trip while attending child care ended up in serious condition after being exposed to sun without sunscreen or protective clothing. To read more about that story, go here.

You can help prevent skin cancer by:
  • using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher; 
  • staying in the shade, especially during midday hours; 
  • covering skin with clothing that covers your arms and legs or a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
Most importantly, plan ahead for you and your family. If your children are in licensed child care, work with your provider to ensure your kids have proper clothing and sunscreen. 

You can learn more important facts about skin cancer and how to prevent it on the Washington Cares about Cancer partnership page and on the Department of Health website about comprehensive cancer control

DOH also published a fact sheet for quick and easy tips to stay safe in warm weather. For tips on how to stay safe in warm weather for all of your family members, even pets, visit DOH's page dedicated to hot weather safety.

If you have a sun burn or someone in your family does, refer to the Skin Cancer Foundation's "Five Tips to Treat Sunburn" article. The article mentions that most sunburns are treatable at home, but 
"...If a blistering burn covers 20% or more of the body (a child's whole back), seek medical attention..." 
Anyone who has had a bad sun burn knows the time and pain it takes to heal. Do yourself and your kids a great service and prevent those harmful UV rays from causing damage now and in the future!

No comments: