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Keeping Children Safe in the Sun

With a 'mini-heatwave' fast approaching and as temperatures are starting to sore we need to remember to keep safe in the sun, especially keeping children safe. The days are getting longer and the sun is getting hotter, so children will be playing outdoors a lot more and it is our responsibility to keep them fully protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

It is vital that parents, carers and childcares teach children from a young age about how to enjoy the outdoors and be safe at the same time. Not only is sunburn painful, there are far more serious dangers that come from too much sun exposure: the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and skin cancer.  

There are some really simple ways you can help keep children and babies safe from the sun:

  • Use a high factor sunscreen. Experts recommended that you use 50+ factor as research shows that this level has an extra protection. Also, use a sunscreen that says "broad-spectrum" on the label as this means it will block out both UVB and UVA rays (‘UVB’ is the main cause of sunburn and ‘UVA’ causes the damage the skin cells over time).
  • Dress children in lightweight clothing to give coverage to the body. You can also look for protective clothing labelled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) for extra protection.
  • Children need to be wearing their hats when in the sun; the best type of hat is one with at least a 3 inch rim that goes all the way around as this will protect the face, ears and the back of the neck.
  • Children should wear sunglasses. Look for children’s sunglasses that have at least 99% UV protection on them (they will be labelled to indicate this) as this will protect their eyes from the sun’s rays. Children from as young as three years old should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, according to opticians.
  • Keep babies who are under 6 months old out of direct sunlight; they should still wear protective clothing and sunscreen should be applied to any small areas exposed e.g. their face,  but make sure you use any shade available i.e. an umbrella/pram canopy or a tree as a baby’s skin is very sensitive at this age.

In the event that a child does get sunburnt, there are some simple steps to follow to ease the pain:

  • Cool the skin with a cold pad as this will ease the burning sensation.
  • Give the child lots of fluid like water or 100% fruit juice as this will help hydrate them.
  • Give them their age appropriate pain medication if needed.
  • Use after sun lotions.

You can find more information via the NHS website by following this link. This has some great videos to explain the importance of sun safety as well as more advice and tips. Importantly, the information is regularly reviewed so you can be sure it is up to date information.

The government have released a useful and informative document from the Public Health England - 'Looking after children and those in early years settings during heatwaves: guidance for teachers and professionals' you can find this here.

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