Are You Keeping Your Child Sun-Safe? 

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Sun safety is important, more so for tamariki. Just a few minutes of gentle sunlight without the appropriate protection can be harmful. Here are some practical ways to keep tamariki sun safe.

 

The middle of the day is when the ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels are at their peak. During the first 15 years of life, our skin is most prone to harm from UV radiation. Babies and children are at particular risk of skin damage and sunburn because of their delicate skin. So, the terms slip, slop, slap, and wrap are an excellent reminder of what to do when playtime comes around.

 

About UV radiation

In Aotearoa, we have incredibly high UV, so we need to take all the precautions regarding the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of energy the sun produces. It can cause sunburn, and is the leading cause of skin cancer.

There are three types of radiation:

  • sunlight (that you can see and feel as heat)
  • infrared radiation (that you can feel as heat),
  • UV radiation (that you cannot see or feel).

 

So when you check the Ultraviolet Index or UVl (this can quickly be done on any weather app), it measures the intensity of UV radiation in our environment. A high index number will mean a higher sunburn or eye damage risk.

  • You don't need sun protection when UVI is low (1 or 2).
  • When the UVI is 3 or higher, it’s an excellent time to be even more aware of protecting your child’s skin and eyes from the sun.

Did you know the UVI can reach levels as high as 15 in New Zealand? So let’s keep up our slip, slop slap and wrapping when tamariki are outdoors.

 

How can we keep our loved ones sun-safe?

At Kindercare, nurturing our children and ensuring sun safety is a big responsibility. By keeping sun safe ourselves, we indicate to our children exactly how they should go about daily sun protection. Listed below are our recommended ways of staying sun safe:

 

Put extra layers of clothing on.

Ensure you cover your children’s skin as much as possible from head to toe. Choose loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that won’t make your child too hot but enough to keep the sun off.

 

Put on a hat.

A hat is vital to any child’s outfit. Make sure it covers the face, ears and back of the neck. You can even purchase foldable hats to bend with them when they move.

 

Use sunscreen.
Apply SPF30+ or higher, broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen on any skin area that may get exposure from the sun.

 

Find shade.
Try to use shade whenever possible, even on a cloudy day. Choose a shady place for your child to play, such as under an umbrella, tree or sun tent.

 

Plan the playtime.
Plan the day’s activities to reduce your children’s exposure to the sun, especially between 10am and 2pm (11am and 3pm in daylight saving time).

 

How much sun exposure should our tamariki get?

Gentle sunlight is suitable for children in small doses. After all, it provides vitamin D. Vitamin D is important because it helps our body absorb calcium and promotes bone growth.

 

Just 10–15 minutes of sunlight daily on their face, arms and hands is enough for most children.

 

Remember, you and your whānau can still get burnt:

  • when you are in the shade (reflections on sand, concrete, even umbrellas)
  • it is cool outside
  • on cloudy days

 

So, as we embrace the warmth of the sun and the joys of outdoor activities, let's also prioritise sun safety. We can lead by example too, by putting into practice the above recommendations and making sun safety a part of their daily routine.