5 tips away to help prevent skin cancer in children and teens

Probably one of the first basic skills taught to young children is the ABCs. However, did you know that teaching the ABCs may very well save a child life later in life? These ABCs are acronyms for three lessons that are easy to follow and even easier to learn!

A= Avoid the Sun at peak hours

B= Block the sun’s rays

C= Cover up

By teaching our children and modeling specific sun-safe behaviors while outdoors, we just might prevent them from acquiring skin cancer later in life. As an educational advocate for preventing skin cancer in children and teens through education, I promote sun safety through www.sunsafely.org,  a comprehensive resource and information site.

Skin cancer around the world has reached an epidemic level, however, even though there is information available that we can help our children make good choices, it is rarely part of the school curriculum and if it is, it is often mentioned as an aside tucked away in a unit in science, health, or P.E. Yet, every day we take our children out to play and expose them to a dose of carcinogen, the sun’s ultra-violet rays. 

If this sounds extreme it is not.  Schools in Australia have learned their A B Cs. In the “land down under” they have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and as a result have implemented a program whereby hats are required when they play outside. 

The sun is essential for sustaining life, and it does provide us with Vitamin D; however, by providing our children with sun-safe habits and behaviors, the statistic of one in five people will develop skin cancer, may go down.

Fact: Summer is not the only time to protect the skin. Sun safety is for every season.
Fact: Just a few serious sunburns can increase a child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.
Fact: Skin needs protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays even on a cloudy day.
Fact: You can have fun in the sun with smart sun sense!  

Plan a bright future and Sun Safely!  It’s as easy as counting to 5!

1. RUB IT ON Apply sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher -Reapply every 30 minutes when you are outdoors

2. COVER UP- Protect your skin by wearing shirts and pants that cover the arms and legs.

3. LIMIT SUN EXPOSURE From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. is the best time to seek shade

4. GRAB SHADES Sunglasses protect the tender skin around the eyes and reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Wear wraparound lenses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.

5. GET A HAT – Brims should be at least 3 inches the way around your head to protect ears, neck, and side of your face

For more information on prevention ideas directed to schools, educators, parents, children, and teens, lick on to www.sunsafely.org . Links and resources from around the world and the U.S. are all dedicated to preventing skin cancer through education.

For our youngest readers click to find Sun Safely Alphabet Book: 26 letters to sun safety.

Remember, educating children and teens is our first defense in helping prevent skin cancer later in life!