Safety Tips for Kids on Hot Summers

Summer’s almost here, so sun safety should be on the minds of concerned parents everywhere especially if you’ll be sending your child to camp.

Since one of the official definitions of an organized camp is that the majority of the activities must take place outdoors, you can expect your child to be spending lots of time in the sun each day.

You don’t want to go overboard to the extent you interfere with your child’s opportunities for fun, but the facts are impossible to ignore. We hear it on the news, from our friends and family, our doctors, from everyone and everywhere:

“The sun causes cancer.”

“Stay out of the sun.”

“Use sun protection.”

“Use sunscreen even when you’re just going outside as a normal part of your daily routine.”

Of particular concern is that almost 25% of your child’s lifetime sun exposure will occur before they turn 18. Since overexposure to the sun can lead to premature aging, skin cancer and a weakened immune system, it makes sense to protect your child as much as possible and educate them at a young age about the sun’s potentially harmful effects.

Since you personally won’t be able to supervise your son or daughter at camp that’s up to the camp counselors you should confirm with the camp that sun safety is a significant part of its risk management plan, especially because sunburns are injuries which can be prevented.

Here are a few strategies to help ensure you child is “sun safe” at summer camp:

Before your child even arrives at camp, contact the camp director to let them know that sun protection is: 1) EXTREMELY important to you, and 2) your child may require extra reminders to apply and reapply sunscreen several times per day, every day, especially after swimming, sweating, towel-drying and extended sun exposure. (By the way, you should not hesitate to make these comments nor feel embarrassed about doing so in any way. Assuming you have chosen a reputable camp with informed and sensitive camp directors, then you can expect them to be very agreeable to and even appreciative of your suggestions and concerns.)

Send your child to camp with a sunscreen composed of a minimum 30 sun protection factor (SPF). There are many decent brands on the market. We do not endorse one over another, but we have been particularly impressed with Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer sunscreen, and more than one dermatologist has made reference to its exceptional UVA and UVB sun fighting abilities. You can purchase this sunscreen at Target Stores, in Malls and from the Neutrogena web site.

Although potential sun damage to the skin is well documented, protecting your child’s eyes from the sun is often overlooked. We recommend that your child wears sunglasses at camp and that the lenses block out at least 98 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Since sunglasses are a relatively small item and may get lost or broken easily, we suggest sending your child to camp with an extra pair just in case.

Don’t forget to send your child to camp with a wide-brimmed hat. We recommend one that’s at least 4-inches around the head, and/or one with flaps that cover the back of the neck. (Girls’ hair is often long enough to cover the backs of their necks, however, if your son or daughter has shorter hair you definitely don’t want to overlook this tip.)

Finally, remember to send at least two long-sleeved shirts to camp, preferably cotton, since many cotton shirts have a slight degree of sun protection factor built-in. However, it is crucial to note that such shirts are NOT a substitute for wearing sunscreen. In other words, remind your child to wear sunscreen at all times, even if they’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt at camp as well; the long sleeves are simply added protection.

Applying sunscreen several times a day should become a normal part of every child’s routine at camp. But when your child is having so much fun and making new friends, sunscreen’s probably the last thing they’re thinking of, so it’s easily forgotten or overlooked. Since protecting your child’s skin and eyes from the sun is so critical, though, we highly advise you to review this information with your child before they leave for camp and with the camp director before your child gets there.