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A Reminder About Sun Protection for Back to School

Does your child’s school have adequate shade on the playground? Can your child wear a hat at recess? Are you “allowed” to send them to school with sunscreen that they can apply themselves? These are all important questions to think about as we send our children out the door and back to school. 

Back to School Sun Exposure

As school supply lists grow each year, one item is always missing: sunscreen.  

Did you know that this is largely due to a policy forbidding staff to apply sunscreen to students? In addition, students can only apply sunscreen themselves if they have a doctor’s note. The law is in place because the additives in lotions and sunscreens can cause an allergic reaction in children, and sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug. This policy existed in 49 states as of June 2012.

Currently, Colorado has no state-level legislation regarding sun protection for its schools. That means there are no laws requiring it and no laws prohibiting it. This provides an opportunity for school districts to develop solid policies that meet the sun protection needs of their students and staff without government interference. However, there are some sun safety regulations that may affect your district. Contact your individual school and school district to learn more.

For now, do what you can to make sure your child is protected before they head to school. Students spend part of their school day playing outdoors during recess, physical education or field study. Parents have a prime responsibility to teach sun-safety to their children and to encourage their child to be aware of UV radiation while they are at school and school-sponsored events.

Sun Protection System

Sun exposure in the first fifteen years is linked to the increased likelihood of skin cancer, including melanoma, as an adult. Children may not be aware of the sun’s UV rays or be able to protect themselves from the sun without reminders from the adults in their lives.

Remind your child “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide” method created by the SunSmart Cancer Council NSW. When the UV Index is 3 or above, you should protect yourself in five ways:

  • Slip on clothing that covers your arms and legs

From the Desk of Dr. Asarch:

‘Most sun damage occurs before our 18th birthdays, the greatest in early childhood. Skin cancer frequently occurs on the sites of severe sunburns. Melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, most often occurs in people who experienced painful sunburns as children.

Parents need to make sure children wear sunscreen every day. Special sun protective clothing is also available. You must take care of your child’s delicate skin at this pivotal time. Painful sunburns should not be an expected part of childhood. They damage your children’s skin for life. Don’t ignore the danger of a sunny day.”

Make a Difference

gift of shade

Does your child’s school or neighborhood playground have a shade structure? The American Academy of Dermatology offers a grant program for shade structures!

Learn more by clicking here http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/what-we-do/shade-structure-grant-program

The Skin Cancer Foundation also has a program that allows you to give the gift of shade by planting a shade tree.

“Give the gift of a hardwood tree and share sun protection for a lifetime.”

For a contribution of $500, you or whomever you designate will receive a Shade Tree (approximately 2-3 feet in height) for planting.

UV Season

The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 am and 3 pm and the strength of UV radiation varies with the time of year.  While it is recommended that sun safety in Colorado should be a year-round concern, be sure to heighten the focus on sun safety, or to enforce sun safety policy, between March 1 and October 31.  This is the time span during which the UV index routinely reaches or exceeds moderate levels.

Confirm the relevant dates for your area by checking the annual UV index record.  It is provided in graphic format by the National Weather Service for numerous cities athttp://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/uv_index/uv_annual.shtml

For more detailed information on Sunscreen, follow this link:

http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Sunscreen-information-sheet1.pdf

For more detailed information on providing shade for students, follow this link:

http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Shade-for-schools-.pdf

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