5 Sun Smart Tips to Play it Safe Outside

This guest post is written by Natasha Istifo, a Masters of Public Health Student working with Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and Sun Smart Saskatchewan!

After long winters in Saskatchewan, enjoying time and activities in the sun over the summer months is just what we need. But it’s important to remember when planning these outdoor activities that we also plan for sun safety! Being sun smart can help reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. 

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer AND the most preventable? Up to 90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) from the sun. Children spend even more time outdoors than adults, and they need to be protected from UVR. The skin damage and sunburns they experience now significantly increase their risk of skin cancer later in life. 

Thankfully there are some Sun Smart tips to play it safe in the sun this summer.

These are tips you can plan, practice and promote with children and their families: 

1)    Consider the strength of the UVR when planning activities and check the UV index daily. When the UV index is 3 or higher, protect your skin (and the children) as much as possible. When practical, it is best to plan outdoor activities before 11am or after 3pm to avoid the critical protection period when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Don't be fooled if it's cool or cloudy - the UVR can still get through to damage skin. 

2)    Encourage families to put together a ‘sun smart essentials’ bag! This would have all the sun protection gear needed such as sunglasses, sunscreen, a big floppy hat or other hat suitable for the activity, and long sleeve clothing. 

3)    Encourage the use of sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and at least SPF 30. Remember that they should reapply often, especially after sweating, swimming, or towelling off!

4)    Scope out or set up a shaded area to play or take breaks from the sun. Shade offers good protection from the sun’s UVR and the heat. Depending on your activity, don’t forget that sand and water reflect UVR so it’s best to use and recommend a variety/combination of sun protection methods. 

5)    Be a role model! Kids are more likely to embrace sun safety when the whole family and the leaders they look up to are involved – so making sun safe behaviours a part of your own routine is also important. Be a sun smart champion and influence others to be sun safe outdoors this summer!

By implementing these practices into your summer recreational activities, you can protect yourself and others from the risk of sun damage. 

Most of all… Have fun, stay safe and be sun smart! Have a great summer ☀️😎!

Sun Smart Saskatchewan is a coalition of partners committed to the prevention of skin cancer in the province. Using local evidence and best practices from around the world, Sun Smart SK’s goal is to educate, inspire, and support groups and communities to promote sun safe behaviours and create UVR protective environments. 

For more information on Sun Smart Saskatchewan, sun safety, and tips and recommendations, visit the Sun Smart SK website at: https://sunsmartsk.ca/