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Back to School Sun Exposure

The time has come for kids to go back to school. School supply lists seem to get longer every year, but never include sunscreen.  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. The need for change on this policy is a discussion for another time. For now, do what you can to make sure your child is protected.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Asarch’s book, Turn Back the Years on Your Face

book cover on amazon“Hurt Your Children for Life: Let Them Play Outside Without Sunscreen

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, and wear t-shirts in the water at the beach or in outdoor pools. 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.”

SUN SAFETY FOR KIDS- recommendations for your child’s school. 

Sun Safety for school age children is so important because sun damage and skin cancer is so preventable!  Simply changing a child’s behavior and attitude about playing outside makes a world of difference.  The vast majority of skin cancer is caused by over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, particularly during childhood. Sun damage accumulates throughout your life- your skin never forgets a sun burn. Help children learn how to stay safe in the sun by teaching them why they need to protect themselves.

Students spend part of their school day playing outdoors during recess, physical education or field study. Though parents have a prime responsibility to teach sun-safety, schools need to be involved, also. Through teaching children the principles of sun safety and adopting policies aimed at protecting students and staff from the sun’s harm, you will encourage students to be aware of UV radiation while they are at school and school-sponsored events.

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 students to follow the “Slip, Slop, Slap, Sleek 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
  • Slop on 30+, broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip balm
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat
  • Seek shade (see more below about how schools can provide shaded areas for school children)
  • Slide on wrap-around sunglasses

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 at http://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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