Sun Safety Advice

It is vital that we all know how to protect our skin for the sun, but it is even more important that we know how to protect the children we look after.

When a child is sent to school or nursery it is down to the staff there to keep the children in their care safe from harm, and this includes sun protection. UV rays can be incredibly damaging to a child’s skin and so care givers must understand the importance of sun protection, adequate Shade and the education of children and parents.

There are various ways that children can be protected from the sun in any location, and there is even a Sun Safe Schools initiative to help schools offer the best possible care for their pupils.

When children are outside and exposed to the sun’s rays they should be adequately protected with sunscreen and sun hats. Sunscreen should have a high SPF and be re-applied at regular intervals to make sure it is offering maximum protection. These measures are imperative between the months of March and September and should always be used when the UV levels can be damaging to a child’s skin. Parents should be informed of the schools requirements and be asked to provide adequate sun protection for the children, with spares available in school. Teachers, parents and other school staff should also take care to set a good example for the children that they care for.

The school or nursery has a responsibility to provide adequate Shaded areas for children when they are outdoors. This could take the form of sail Shades, sun canopies or shelters, as long as it provides adequate cover from the sun’s rays. These are particularly useful over playgrounds and sand pits.

The school should take the opportunity to educate the children about their own sun safety through structured assemblies and lessons. It is important to engage with children in a fun manner to explain the dangers of the sun and how they can protect themselves. This can be done through illustrated stories, websites and other materials that can bring about questions and spark discussion about the key messages. The use of activity sheets and reward stickers can help to reinforce the point.

UVA and UVB rays from the sun are both considered to be damaging, although there are new and improved ways to protect yourself and your children emerging. Both types of rays penetrate the atmosphere and can play a significant role in premature ageing, eye damage, suppressing the immune system and creating skin cancers. Even a tan is a sign of sun damage to the skin’s DNA, with the darkening of the skin occurring in order to protect itself from further damage. This is why it is vital to offer children the highest possible levels of protection from UV rays that we can.

The Sun Safe Schools organisation has been developed in conjunction with skin cancer charity Skin and require the school to ensure the four steps of sunscreen, sun hats and role models, Shade, introductory assembly plans and lesson plans and activity sheets are completed as part of their duty of care to protect children from the damaging effects of UV rays during school hours.