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4 Steps to Sun Safety: Tweens

by Lori Sciame | July 9th, 2015 | Safety, Tweens

tween on beach (400x400)The sun’s rays beckon children outside, especially during the summer months.  No school, no obligations, no worries…right?  Wrong!  The summer sun presents several safety issues for tweens, including sunburn.  Don’t be lax when it comes to sun safety.  Know how to prevent injury and illness due to the sun, and your tween will have a much happier summer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should use a sunscreen daily. While this may seem over zealous, it does drive home the fact that parent’s should be concerned about skin health.

To help prevent sunburn, and to lessen your child’s chances for developing skin cancer later in life, you should make sure they use a sunscreen. The SCF explains the differing levels of skin protection and their importance as follows: “SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a difference.”

Sunscreen should be re-applied after a child sweats or swims. Better yet, purchase products formulated for water, and follow the directions on the bottle carefully.

In addition to protecting the skin from harmful rays, parents need to understand that hot, sunny days can lead to dehydration in a child.  WebMD explains that children suffer from dehydration and heat illness more than adults do.  To prevent dehydration, please make sure your child consumes enough liquids.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child weighing approximately 88 pounds should drink 5 ounces of cold tap water or sports drink on a regular basis throughout a hot summer’s day.  In essence, even if a child does not feel thirsty he should drink liquids to prevent dehydration; therefore, always make sure a child has a supply of cool drinks handy.

It is also scary that dehydration can be cumulative.  WebMD states, “know that dehydration is cumulative. If your child is 1% or 2% dehydrated on Monday and doesn’t drink enough fluids that night, then gets 1% or 2% dehydrated again on Tuesday, that means your child is 3% or 4% dehydrated at the end of the day.”  In the end, a parent must be vigilant when it comes to dehydration.

Finally, the sun and heat combined can lead to overheating.  Make sure your child rests throughout the day, and watch for signs of early heat exhaustion, such as: red cheeks, dry lips, and excessive sweating. Even dark colored urine is a warning sign!

Overall, summer is a time for fun in the sun.  Tweens love the freedom they have from school responsibilities, such as homework and early morning bus rides.  Yet, parents still need to be mindful of safety issues, including sun safety.  Slather your tween in sunscreen, keep him or her hydrated, and ensure overheating does not occur. Respect the sun’s power, and your child will be that much more safe this (and every) summer.

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