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Right about now you are probably expressing a huge sigh of relief that winter is well behind us and summer fun has begun.  Gone are the days of rushing out the door after first bundling them up in coats, boots, hats, mittens and scarves. Some mornings, we’re sure you already felt like you’d run a half marathon, just getting your child safely to daycare and pre-school! Now it’s just shorts, t-shirts and a fight over flip-flops or sandals. Easy-peasy! Or is it? The truth is summer can be just as time-consuming when you factor in the SPF factor.

Here is what the Alpha’s team would like you to know about sunscreen and school.

There is certainly no greater feeling than that of the raising your face up into the sunshine and feeling it’s warmth and brightness, even behind the back of closed eyelids. However, that warm and fuzzy feeling only applies, when you know with confidence, that you’ve been applying sunscreen. Because, as we should all know by now, the sun looks good and it even feels good but the bottom line is it isn’t always good for you.

Generally accepted guidelines for safe summer sunscreen application:

  • Babies under 6 months of age do not require sunscreen.

  • 6 – 24 months many parents avoid sunscreen with chemicals and opt for more natural options such as zinc oxide.

  • An SPF of between 30 to 50 is fine. Anything else is just overkill.

  • SPF 30-50 that also states “broad spectrum” will give you both UVA and UVB protection.

  • Remember – reapplication is key, particularly after exposure to water.

  • Make sure you read all the ingredients and be aware that each child is different (even within the same family) and may have sensitivities to different type of sunscreen and/or the fragrances associated with them.

  • Generally speaking, lotion is better than spray.  Yes, we know spray is easier but sometimes you miss spots with spray and some children are not yet able to understand holding their breath and may inhale too much of the product causing possible lung damage. Lotion is the preferred method of protection for most of us and certainly (because you can see it as you apply it) is better overall for young children.

  • Check with Health Canada Guidelines if you want to know more about sunscreen and whether (or when) to use it.

Finally, while it might not be as onerous as remembering those boots and snow pants, it’s important to remember that when you send your child to Alpha’s they should have a properly labelled and wide brimmed sun hat. Burned skin isn’t our only worry and uncovered noggins can result in cases of heat or sun-stroke faster and more frequently in young children.

Plenty of water is also important throughout the summer season and while we will take care of that during the day here at Alpha’s, we strongly urge you to keep a sippy cup of water or bottled water for older children on hand for your trip home. Dehydration is another serious danger that youngsters face in the summertime and again, it too can happen a lot faster in young children than in adults.

Sunglasses are another consideration that many parents of young children don’t think about and yet the sun’s rays are particularly harmful to little eyes especially when those same little eyes sometimes don’t realize how important it is NOT to stare straight into the sun!

What we are really saying is this: Summer or winter, children’s skin still needs protecting. Whether it’s extra mittens, sunscreen, an extra hat or just a change of clothes for emergency purposes, it’s always a good idea to be prepared, no matter the occasion!