Spring break is a great time for the family to get away from the cold, dark days of winter and have some fun in the sun. Keep your family safe while on your trip by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Please feel free to use them in any print or broadcast story, with appropriate attribution of source.
Sun Safety for Babies
- Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats.
- It is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months if there is no way to avoid the sun. Remember it takes 30 minutes to be effective.
Sun Safety for Kids
- Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective.
- Try to find a wide-brimmed hat that can shade the cheeks, chin, ears and back of the neck. Sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection are also a good idea for protecting your child's eyes.
- Apply sunscreen to areas of your child's skin that aren't covered by clothing. Before applying, test the sunscreen on your child's back for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids. If a rash develops, talk with your pediatrician.
- If your child gets sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician.
Sun Safety for the Family
- The sun's rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.
- The sun's damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.
- Wear commercially available sun-protective clothing, like swim shirts.
- Most of the sun's rays can come through the clouds on an overcast day; so use sun protection even on cloudy days.
- When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words "broad-spectrum" on the label - it means that the sunscreen will protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying. You may want to select a sunscreen that does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, a sunscreen chemical that may have hormonal properties.
- Zinc oxide, a very effective sunscreen, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, top of the ears and on the shoulders.
- Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The additional benefits of using sunscreen with SPF 50+ are limited.
- Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.
- Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors - it needs time to work on the skin.
- Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.
Tanning salon dangers
- Many teens and young women go to tanning salons. The UV radiation from tanning salons raises a person's risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Tanning salons are not safe. Teens and others should not use tanning salons.
- The AAP supports legislation prohibiting access to tanning salons or use of artificial tanning devices by children under 18 years of age.
Pool and Beach Tips
- Children and adults should never swim alone.
- Provide touch supervision. This means that an adult is within arm's reach anytime your young child is in or near water.
- Be aware that pools and beaches in other countries may not have lifeguards, and pools may have unsafe drain systems. Supervise children closely.
- At the beach, stay within the designated swimming area and ideally within the visibility of a lifeguard
- Be aware of rip currents. If you should get caught in one, don't try to swim against it. Swim parallel to shore until clear of the current.
- Seek shelter in case of storm. Get out of the water. Get off the beach in case of lightning.
- Watch out for traffic – some beaches allow cars.
©American Academy of Pediatrics 2/16