Learn the reasons why being SunSmart is important, including tips on teaching your child how to be safe in the Kiwi sun. Plus discover how to apply sunscreen without making a huge mess!
In our Kiwi summers, being SunSmart and keeping our kids safe from the sun is a must. We’ve all heard of the good old favourite Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap, even if it wasn’t as catchy as the big M’s seatbelt song. Yes, I know you’re singing that one now.
Getting back on track though, skin cancer is a big problem here in New Zealand. There’s a great big hole in the ozone layer, a protective gas layer which stops the majority of ultraviolet radiation from the sun reaching the earth, close to New Zealand. This means that every time we step outdoors, our skin is in danger. That’s because ultraviolet radiation or UV causes skin and eye damage which is severe enough to cause skin cancer and vision difficulties.
The good news is though, it is completely preventable and as a parent, it’s your job to teach your kids why and how to be SunSmart.
What Does Being SunSmart Mean?
Being SunSmart simply means protecting your skin and eye from UV rays, especially when you are outside between September to April, or year-round when you are in the snow, on the water or up a mountain. You do this by following the famous Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap:
- Slip – slip into a hat, not just any hat look for UPF 50 protection. choose some shade when you are outdoors. This could be under an umbrella or a leafy tree. Plan your time outdoors for early or late in the day to avoid peak UV times. You should also slip on a long-sleeved shirt which has a tight weave. Darker coloured shirts also provide more protection.
- Slop – slop on lots and lots of sunscreen. Use one which has an SPF of at least 30, apply 20 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours and after swimming. In here are our top recommended SPF 30 protection.
- Slap – slap a hat on your head and make sure it has a wide brim or cap. The neck and face are the places you are most likely to get sunburnt on.
- Wrap – wrap on some sunglasses. Check that they have adequate UV protection, that they are close-fitting and wrap around your face.
As a parent, you are responsible for teaching your children how to protect themselves from the sun, as well as helping them to be so. While they are young, you will need to take the majority of responsibility for doing so.
As you put a hat on their head or sunscreen on their body, explain the reasons why you are doing so. Be a good role model yourself and mirror the actions you take for them too. As they grow older, they can begin to be responsible for putting on a hat before they head outdoors, or putting their own sunscreen on.
Now before you freak out at the potential mess this may cause, let me tell you about Solar Buddies. They are the best thing since sliced bread, in that they make applying sunscreen easy as! The sponge inside the applicator distributes sunscreen over the skin; so no messy hands, drippy sunscreen or squirts on the floor! As sunscreen is one of the most important factors in keeping safe in the sun, we thought it deserves a bit more attention.
Understanding the Ins and Outs of Sunscreen
A gel, lotion or spray, sunscreen helps protect our skin from UV rays through absorption. The use of it alone does not keep us completely safe and should be used together with other protective measures