A Shining Bright Sun

Sun Sense


Practice monthly self-examinations from the top of your head to the soles of your feet -- stand in front of a full-length mirror and examine your body from all sides.

See your doctor right away if you notice:

 A birthmark or mole that changes shape, colour, size, or surface

 A sore that does not heal.

 New growths on your skin.

 Patches of skin that bleed, ooze, swell, itch, or become red or bumpy.

Myth: You can’t get a sunburn on a cloudy day.


Fact: On days when the sky is cloudy but bright, most UV rays still reach the ground.  On these days, people burn nearly as quickly as if it were sunny.  By comparison, dark, overcast decks of cloud block most UV rays.


Myth: A tan protects you from sun damage.


Fact: A tan only has as much protection as using a sunscreen with an SPF of 3, which is quite minimal, so a tan does not protect you from skin damage.  Even with a tan you still burn just as a dark-skinned person can also burn without protection.  A sunscreen of SPF #15 or greater is still a necessity.  Without protection, ultraviolet rays will increase your risk of skin cancer and cause premature wrinkling.


Myth: Staying in the shade prevents burning.


Fact: You can get a sunburn in the shade if you are near reflective surfaces such as water, snow, sand, or even concrete—where the sun’s rays can reflect onto your skin.


Myth: You won’t sunburn while swimming.


Fact: The sun’s rays penetrate under water, so people swimming or playing in water absorb nearly as much UV radiation as those on land nearby.  Use a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply frequently and liberally.

Skin cancer is preventable, visible and curable if detected and treated early.


1 in 7 people today are at risk of developing skin cancer at some point in their lifetime.


The risk is higher for people who:

 have light-coloured skin, eyes and hair.

 work, play or exercise in the sun for long periods of time.

 had one or more blistering sunburns as a child.

 use tanning devices, such as tanning booths or sunlamps.

 have a family history of skin cancer.

 freckle easily or have many moles.

Up to 80% of your child’s lifetime exposure to UV rays occurs before he/she turns 20 years old. The sun exposure children receive while they are young increases their risk of developing skin cancer as adults. Protecting your child from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun will reduce this risk. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada and it can be entirely prevented by using the “SunSense” guidelines. More than 800 Canadians die each year from skin cancer despite it being one of the most preventable cancers.


How parents can protect their children from the sun:

  • Plan outdoor activities outside peak UV times – in other words, not between 11am and 4pm. (Daylight Savings time). UV radiation levels are highest in the middle of the day and your child’s skin will burn more quickly during this period than in the early morning or late afternoon. Try to influence their pre-school or school to change schedules so that they are not outside during these hours. Book sports activities outside of these time zones.

  • UV rays are not hot, so they can’t be seen or felt. It is still possible to get burnt even though it’s not hot, and on cool or cloudy days.

  • Use hats and clothing.  Broad-brimmed (8–10 cms or 3 inches) or legionnaire-style hats which cover the face, neck and ears can reduce UV radiation to these areas by about 50 per cent. Children should also wear loose, comfortable clothing that protects the arms, legs, body and neck from the sun. Generally, the closer the weave of the fabric the better the protection from UV radiation.  Man-made fabrics such as polyester and Lycra also provide better protection than does cotton or other natural fibres.

  • Be a SunSense role model.  Children often copy those around them and learn by imitation. If you adopt sun protection behaviours, the children in your care are more likely to do the same.

  • Encourage children to play in the shade.  Plant trees or erect temporary or permanent shade structures in the places where your child plays, or move activities, eg. wading pools, into shaded areas. Remember that UV rays can be reflected onto your child even when they’re in the shade, so use clothing, a hat and sunscreen as well.

  • Use an SPF 30+, broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen on body parts not able to be covered by hats or clothing. Apply 20-30 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours as sunscreen is easily wiped or sweated off. Use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15. Never use sunscreen as the only form of protection or to increase the amount of time you and your child would normally spend in the sun. Do not apply sunscreen around a child’s eyes as it may sting and burn.  Instead, protect the eyes with sunglasses.

  • Use sunglasses to protect your child’s eyes. There is a wide range of effective and inexpensive children’s sunglasses available. Make sure they are designed to be close-fitting around the eyes and that they block both UVA and UVB rays.

  • Keep babies under one year of age out of direct sunlight.  This will also prevent dehydration and sunstroke.  Keep them protected in a covered stroller, under an umbrella, or in the shade, however keep in mind that UV rays can be reflected so they may be at risk of getting UV rays in the shade as well.

  • Ensure that “SunSense” practices become a lifestyle habit for your child. Remember that childhood protection decreases the chances of developing skin cancer later in life.

  1. Avoid or reduce sun exposure between 11am and 4pm.

  2. Seek shade or create your own shade, i.e. with a beach umbrella, etc.

  3. SLIP on clothing to cover your arms and legs.

  4. SLAP on a wide-brimmed hat (8mm or 3” wide at least).

  5. SLOP on a sunscreen with an SPF #15 or higher every 2 hours and more frequently if swimming or perspiring heavily.  (Not for babies under 6 months.)

  6. Keep babies less than one year old, out of direct sunlight.

  7. Tanning parlours and sunlamps are NOT a safe way to tan.

  8. Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection.


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