The UV radiation can cause sunburn, premature aging, cataracts and over time, skin cancers. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Canada. It is also one of the most preventable. Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma alone, account for 40% of cancer diagnoses. The number of cases of the more serious Malignant Melanoma continues to rise annually and is doubling every ten years. 1 in 7 people today are at risk of developing skin cancer at some point in their lifetime.
When the UV index is 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. (In Canada, the UV index is most often 3 or higher from 11 AM – 3 PM, between April and September. Check the daily forecast for the UV Index UV Index forecast.
Wear sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses. Look for “100% UV protection” or “UV400” on the label. How to select the perfect pair of Sunglasses.
Use sun screen SPF 30 or higher that is labelled “broad-spectrum” and “water-resistant” on all exposed skin. Apply generously. Re-apply periodically, especially after sweating or going in the water. Don’t forget often missed areas: tops of ears, nose, shoulders, feet, scalp (if hair-challenged)… Sunscreen lip balm is also recommended to protect your lips (SPF30) too!
Never use UV tanning equipment or deliberately try to get a suntan. The Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Tanning Beds), bans the use of tanning beds by youth under 18 years of age. Watch this video from the Canadian Dermatological Association talking about tanning beds and prom expectations.
Avoid sunburn. Check out this video Why No Tan is a Safe Tan.
Poster: Sun Screen Tips
Video: Chose a sunscreen
Activities: Sun Safety Activity Pack
Poster: Seasonal Sun Safety
The risk of melanoma is increased by 59% for those who begin indoor tanning before the age of 35 years (Government of Canada, 2014). Multiple studies have found that this early use can increase risk of skin cancer generally by 75% (How to Promote Sun Safety, May 2017). Persons under 18 years of age are from using UV tanning equipment.
UV radiation from tanning lights is a contributing cause of skin cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Dermatology Association as well as Health Canada strongly recommend that people do not add to their UV radiation exposure by using tanning lights. The “Indoor Tanning is Out” video warns that artificial tanning is not as safe as you think! It is especially dangerous because UV rays from sunbeds can be up to 10-15 times higher than that of the midday sun.
If your occupation involves you being exposed to UV radiation either from the sun or from artificial sources, you might talk to your Occupational Health and Safety Officer about safety measures.
The Sun Safety at Work Canada (SSAWC) supports workplaces in helping protect their employees from the dangers of exposure to sunlight.
The website supports the development of a sun safety program as part of an occupational health and safety management system. More than 70 free resources on sun safety are available to download from the website. A range of resources are also available in French, with Spanish and Punjabi.
Outdoor workers, those in construction, farming, and building care and maintenance have up to a 3.5 times greater risk of skin cancer than indoor workers, at least 5,000 skin cancers each year are attributed to occupational sun exposure.
For most people the lifetime exposure to UV rays occurs before they turn 18 years old. The sun exposure children receive while they are young, increases their risk of developing skin cancer as adults.
Sun Safety Tips for Parents
SunSense Certification Guide for Elementary Schools
Elementary Curriculum: Sun Safe Curriculum Supports for Schools
Sun Safety eLearning Course – CSCF Developed for students in grades 5 & 6, 30-minute online, self guided, for a more comprehensive look into skin cancer and sun safety.
Grades Secondary Grades 9 to 12
Designing for Shade on Your School Playgrounds
Shade Policy Primer for School Boards Example School Board Policy: Waterloo Region District School Board
Municipalities and Communities
Communities can have a significant impact on the amount of sun exposure that their children, in particular, have. This can happen with some planning to plant deciduous trees strategically, build shade structures where people spend time (like parks and community gathering areas) and insisting that new developments retain as many trees as possible, or plant a minimum of one good-sized tree on each of the sub-divided properties.
There is also great opportunity to work with community schools to encourage and support them to fund-raise and apply for grants to increase shade on school playgrounds.
Shade Policies (UVOntario): Incorporating Shade Policies into Official Plans and municipal documents is
Policy Guidelines: Creating Shade at Public Facilities - Policy and Guidelines for Local Government Second Edition (Queensland Government)
Shade Audit Tool - use this tool to complete an audit in one of the local parks or community spaces. The results will inform future decisions regarding the need for more trees or shade structures, and where to most effectively place them.
Use the UV Index Record daily to inform staff and participants of the UV rating for the day (see Appendix UV Index Record)
CAMPS can play a key role in minimizing UV exposure, by providing an environment that promotes positive sun protection behaviours. The Screen Me™ Sun Aware™ program to protect children and teens from skin cancer by supporting camp owners, directors, and staff to implement best practices in sun safety. It is a program that can be used by residential, municipality camps and day and overnight camps across Canada. The program offers FREE RESOURCES, including staff training, UV bracelets, educational tools and more. Learn how your camp can become Sun Aware™ certified by visiting sunaware.ca.
Q&A: How can residents stay cool at home when they lack air conditioning? GHHIN 2020
Beat the Heat 2021 / Combattez la chaleur 2021 (Bilingual / Bilingue) Ottawa Public Health 2021
What to do When its Really Hot Santé Montreal 2020, Information sheet It’s really hot!
Heat Alert and Response Systems to Protect Health: Best Practices Guidebook Health Canada 2012
Communicating the Health Risks of Extreme Heat Events Health Canada 2011
Guidance for Cleaner Air Spaces during Wildfire Smoke Events Health Canada 2020.
Extreme Heat Events Guidelines: Technical Guide for Health Care Workers Health Canada 2011.
Acute Care During Extreme Heat: Recommendations and Information for Health Care Workers Health Canada 2011
Extreme heat and COVID-19 resources
Extreme Heat and COVID-19 - Canada.ca
COVID-19 Guidance for Cooling Rooms. Toronto Public Health. 2020.
Health advice for hot weather during the COVID-19 World Health Organization EURO. 2020.
Tips to Beat the Heat City of Toronto. 2021.
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