Protect your family and avoid sunburn with these handy tips.
So many beautiful family memories are made enjoying the great outdoors: whether it’s the beach, the bush, or the barbecue in the backyard. However, New Zealand has the highest skin cancer rate in the world – and there’s strong evidence that sunburn during childhood greatly increases the chance of developing skin cancer later in life. That means it’s crucial to keep you and your family safe in the sun – whatever the time of year.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – sunburn and skin cancer are easily preventable! It’s empowering to know that you can make a difference in your family’s life simply by staying sunburn-free – and you can start today with these tips.
You can’t go wrong with the classic Kiwi mantra, slip, slop, slap and wrap. Can you remember what each word stands for? Let’s start with slip: slip on a long-sleeve shirt. The tighter the fabric weave and the darker the colour, the better for keeping out those pesky rays. Don’t forget to slip the family into rash shirts when they hit the water, too.
Slip also means slip into the shade, under a tree or a sun shelter, so you’re not sizzling directly under the sun.
Everyone should slop on some sunscreen, of course – as long as they’re older than six months (more on that later). Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen and make sure it’s at least SPF30 to cope with Aotearoa’s harsh sunlight.
Remember to apply it around 20 minutes before heading into the outdoors, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or a lot of sweating.
Only Rudolph looks good with a red nose! Invest in some wide-brim hats for you and the family to keep those faces and necks stay sunburn-free.
Hats also help prevent sunstroke, which can occur if the body overheats. Symptoms of sunstroke can include headaches, thirst, nausea, confusion and fainting. A little preparation can go a long way to avoiding this!
It’s easy to focus so much on protecting your skin that you forget your eyes need looking out for too! They are just as sensitive to the sun as the rest of the body.
Next time you’re out in the sun, make sure your family is decked out in wraparound sunglasses like these Tifosi Brixen Sunglasses.
Always check the protection rating on sunglasses to make sure they’re blocking both ultraviolet B rays and ultraviolet A rays.
Check sun protection alerts
Your local weather website should list sun protection alerts for each day. These tell you when you’ll need sun protection to stay safe. In summer, this is usually between 9am-5pm, but it varies daily depending on the conditions, so be sure to check.
Limiting your sunshine exposure to the early morning or late afternoon can also help to avoid sun damage. And don’t forget: you can get burnt at any time of year – even in winter – so don’t let a cloudy day or cool air fool you.
You know the drill. Have lots of juicy snacks on hand and bring full water bottles for everyone. Heat can wear out even the toughest of adults, so be sure to keep those kiddos drinking fluids all day long.
Babies and toddlers
It’s important to be even more careful with babies and young children when it comes to the sun. Here are some extra pointers to keep your little ones safe.
- If your baby is 0-6 months of age, their skin is too sensitive to wear sunscreen. That means they should be kept out of the sun entirely, as their skin is particularly susceptible to damage at this tender age. Take walks outside of peak sunlight hours and use a baby stroller with a sun-protective cover.
- From 6 months old and onwards, your child can wear sunscreen. Look for baby and toddler brands that are gentle on the skin such as Little Dragon’s Natural SPF50 Sunscreen.
- Always remember the other slip, slop, slap and wrap tips.
Now you know how to keep the family sun smart, it’s time to enjoy the outdoors – without a painful sunburn. Bliss.