Sun Safety for Kids

Terry Hurley
Applying sunscreen to a child's back

Keep your children safe from the dangers of the hot summer sun with these tips about sun safety for kids.

Playing in the Sun

Kids love playing outside when the weather is hot and the sun is shining brightly. Little ones are unaware of the dangers of the sun's rays on their skin and older kids are often too busy playing to notice the hot rays of the sun on their bodies.

Sadly, each year there are more than two million people in the United States that receive the diagnosis of skin cancer, and approximately one-third of are diagnosed with melanoma. For many of those people the damage to their skin started in their childhood years as they played outside without protecting their skin. As parents and caretakers, it is up to you to keep your kids safe from the burning hot sun and teach them about sun safety. By doing so, you help keep them safe from the damage caused by the sun's rays and reduce the chances of them becoming a victim of skin cancer in their later years.

Sun Safety for Kids

The following tips will help protect your children's skin and eyes from the damage caused by the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

  • The peak time of the sun's ultraviolet rays is between 10 AM and 4 PM. This is the time that the worst damage from the sun's rays occurs. It is best to avoid being outside during this time of day as much as possible.
  • Sunblocks provide more protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays than sunscreens
  • Before applying sunscreen to a child's skin, make certain the child is not allergic to the product. Do this by applying a small amount of sunscreen to a very small area of the child's skin. If there is any allergic reaction, such as itching or burning, do not use the product.
  • Always make sure that you use a sunscreen that contains both UVA and UVB protection. These products are labeled with the statement that they protect from both types of the sun's rays, UVA and UVB. If the sunscreen product label reads "broad spectrum" it also provides protection from both damaging UVA and UVB sun rays.
  • Use sunscreens that have the seal of approval from the Cancer Foundation.
  • Sunscreen products for kids should have a sun protection factor, generally called an SPF, of at least 30. The higher the SFP number, the more protection the product provides.
  • Apply the sunscreen to your child about 30 minutes before the child goes out in the sun to allow it time to be absorbed. Make sure to rub the sunscreen into all areas of the child's skin that is exposed to the sun.
  • Reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours.
  • If the child is going into the water, use a sunscreen product that is waterproof or water resistant. Waterproof sunscreens provide approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes (80 minutes) of protection. Water resistant sunscreen products provide protection for approximately 40 minutes.
  • Light colored clothing helps to block the sun's rays. A good choice is a lightweight, cotton, long sleeved shirt, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses.
  • Sunglasses for children should fit well and have UV protection.
  • Even if the day is overcast or cloudy, the sun's rays come through. Wearing sunscreen is just as important on cloudy and overcast days as it is on a clear sunny days.

Online Resources for Sun Safety

The following websites provide coloring sheets, activities and worksheets to help you teach your child about sun safety.

Sun Safety for Kids

It is important to know how to protect your children from the dangerous rays of the sun. By following the tips for sun safety for kids, your children can enjoy playing in the great outdoors on hot summer days and you will know you are doing everything you need to do to keep them safe in the sun.

Sun Safety for Kids