Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here Comes the Sun: Hints for Sun Safety

A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.
~ Anne Bronte

We are an outdoor family. My husband and I took a stroll through the garden in the early morning light this morning, checking on the plants as mother hens fuss over their chicks.

The boys talked eagerly at breakfast of afternoon plans for a bike ride and water play at our local AMBUCS Sprayground.

Once the boys were off to school, my youngest wanted to ride her own bike up and down the sidewalk, an activity usually reserved for the heat of the day, now enjoyed with ten times the excitement because of her large shadow cast in the slanting rays of the rising sun.

Maybe we're a photosynthetic clan. But we do love to be out in the sunshine -- from its rising clear through to sunset.

It's the time of year I have to remind myself about sun safety. That first sunburn of the year can be painful -- best to avoid it altogether with a little prevention.

If you're headed out with your crew, these tips might save you a little hurt later on:

Keep your eye on the clock - The sun is strongest from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Early morning and later afternoon sun are less damaging to the skin.

Stock up on Sunscreen - Did you know that your sunscreen has an expiration date? It is best to purchase sunscreen in small bottles that can be replaced frequently. We choose sunscreens with Sun Protection Factor [SPF] 15 or above. For fair-skinned children or babies, I have gone as high as 50. (To find out your lotion's sunburn protection, do this calculation: Average time to sunburn with no sunscreen X SPF factor = Average time of protection with sunscreen. So, if you usually burn in 10 minutes and use SPF 15, you should be protected for 150 minutes before burning.)

Reapply, reapply, reapply - The SPF calculation works only in the best of circumstances. Several factors can weaken your sun protection. Water, sweat, and rubbing skin on clothing are a few common ones. It's best to reapply sunscreen every hour, just to be sure it's doing its job, especially if you're going to be outside for hours on end.

Watch those tender places - Pay extra attention to protecting areas of the body prone to sunburn. Shoulders, cheeks and noses need extra protection. So do the tops of the ears (for boys with short hair or girls with ponytails) and the tops of the feet (when feet get sunburned -- ouch!)

Let clothes do the trick - Boys and girls can wear rash guards as a part of their swimsuits to protect their bodies from getting too much sun. Putting a hat on babies or older children can help shield their faces without having to douse them in SPF 700. Large t-shirts, hooded towels, or bathing suit cover-ups can be great ways to cover up when taking a break from the swimming pool.

Go easy on the eyes - Sunglasses are a summertime must. Most drug stores and department stores are starting to sell them right now. Be sure to check the tag -- it will tell you the UVA/UVB protection they will give your and your child's eyes.

Now... if I can just remember these tips myself! One of today's errands is to pack my 'beach bag' with all our supplies, so I'm ready to head out on a moment's notice. When the weather is this beautiful, it pays to be prepared. In it, I'll bring our sun care essentials, snacks, water, hand wipes, and a beach towel or two.

You can never be too ready to head out in the sunshine!

- Midwest Mom


  1. I bounced over here from the lovely Green Girl - just wanted to say hi from Urbana. :)

  2. Hi, Violet. :) We're neighbors! Hope you get out to enjoy the sunshine today!

    - Julia

  3. Thanks! This is so true. My little guy went fishing with his Daddy last weekend and came home with sunburned ears. I felt awful -- so did he.

    I just didn't think about sunscreen this early in the season. But sunscreen and a little hat would've been the best thing for him.

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Julia I hope you are feeling better!

    These are great sun tips, I really like the idea of having a beach bag ready to go! I might just make it the trunk of my car though lol..

  5. It seems so easy to get sunburned these days. I'm a huge fan of face moisturizer with sunscreen in it!

  6. Sunscreen is always a great reminder. Thanks.

  7. This is great. I always try to remember the tops of ears, feet, etc. My daughter always manages to get red under her eyes. Even with sunglasses.

    Have you seen something called UV beads? They detect the sun's rays and turn colors in sunlight and are white out of the sun. They are very cool. I have some on my beach bag as a reminder. You can find them at

  8. Here in southern California we have to worry about the sun all year long - which is why I have sunscreen stashed in every bag, both cars and both kids' school backpacks. As far as swimsuits go, neither of my boys knows that boys can wear bottoms only - they always have a rash guard on! Knock wood, neither has ever been seriously sunburned, despite spending most of the summer at a day camp on the beach.

  9. Your advice is absolutely right. Thank you. Here is an acronym that helps moms remember it in the order of priority endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics - SunAWARE
    A - avoid unprotected exposure at any time and seek shade
    W- wear sunprotective clothing including a hat with a three inch brim and sunglasses
    A -Apply broad spectrum sunscreen before exposure and reapply every two hours while exposed
    R - routinely check your skin and report any suspicious changes to a health care provider
    E - educate your family and friends

    You can get the background for this at

    Be SunAWARE and Be Safe!

    Thanks again
    Mary Barrow


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