Sun smart on the peninsula
Did you know that, according to the Cancer Council: “Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world? Almost half the people who live in Australia their whole lives will get skin cancer at some time.”
Skin cancer is caused by unprotected exposure to UV radiation, and it is suggested that a UV index above three requires sun protection. You can check the daily UV index for the area on www.bom.gov.au/weather/uv.
We need to help our children understand and deal with the sun from an early age.
Some ways we can help our children are:
Model what you say
If you expect your child to wear a hat when she goes outside, then so should you. If you expect your child to put on sunscreen then so should you.
Always have sunscreen and hats handy at the front and back doors so that it can be remembered easily.
Talk about the weather
When you talk about what sort of day its going to be and what we will wear, children will become aware of the sun and what to do.
Buy the right gear
There is plenty of information on hat brims, clothes and sunscreen for all children of all ages. If you are unsure then go to the website www.cancercouncil.com.au or the Cancer Council shop at Warringah Mall.
Go outside at the best times of day
Avoid the summer heat between 10am to 3pm (or 11am to 4 pm during daylight saving) by staying indoors.
Set up the garden for summer
Add shade cloth to areas where the children usually play - over the sand pit, at the bike track or where the blow up pool is located.
When the children go outside, check hats sunscreen and appropriate clothes.
Keep it coming
Continue to add sunscreen after they have splashed in the pool and every now and then. Keep placing that hat they keep taking off back on their heads reminding them to “Keep your hat on”.
Pretend to put sunscreen on the dollies. Sing songs and say rhymes about sun safety, such as “Slip slap front and back”.
Have a box of hats to choose from when going outside.
Manage any inappropriate behaviour
Most four-year-olds are ready to put on their hats and sunscreen, especially if they go to pre-school where it is a rule for play outdoors. However, toddlers just keep taking hats off and throwing them on the ground.
Make it a rule that is strong and constant. “Keep your hat on or we go inside.” Then keep putting the hat back on. While this must be done over and over at this age it is just as important as not letting them play on the road.
Planning for a baby and an older child
The older child may want to go out and play, while the baby should be out of the sun.
You may need to plan baby sleep time for outdoor play.
When all these ideas are in place, you are doing your best for your child in the Australian summer.