5 Tips for Sun Safety This Summer

a child floats in a pool on an innertube

As the weather warms up, people are starting to spend more time outside. Going for walks, playing in the park, or just basking in the sun are all great ways to celebrate longer days and warmer temperatures. Spending time in the sun is good for kids, and for adults! Vitamin D helps bones absorb calcium and time outside in the sunshine can help boost mental health and relieve stress. But of course, too much sun exposure has serious negative consequences as well. If kids spend too much time in the sun unprotected, it can lead to long term skin damage, cancer, and eye problems when they’re older.

a group of kids smiles under some trees

One common misconception about sun safety is that only kids with light skin are at risk for skin damage. While it’s true that the amount of melanin found in a person’s skin does affect the way UV rays are absorbed into their body, everyone is at risk for skin and eye damage from sunlight regardless of their skin color. Kids with light skin are more susceptible to the immediate consequences of sunburn, but long term damages from excessive sun exposure (like melanoma) are a serious risk for all children.


two children ride bikes in sunglasses

With this in mind, it’s important to invest in sun safety for all the kids in your life, whether they’re your family, your students, your campers, or your players. Of course, sun safety is important all year, even in winter, but as kids start spending more time out in the sun this spring and summer, it’s a good time to check in with your sun protection habits. Follow the five steps outlined below to enjoy the sunshine while staying safe all summer and beyond!

a child in a bathing suit runs out of the water

1. Avoid peak hours. The sun’s rays are at their strongest in the middle of the day. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or evening hours when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is less intense. The distribution of sun throughout the day is different depending on location, but generally 10 am to 4 pm are good hours to spend in the shade or indoors.

2. Cover up. One of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun is to create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays. Hats with brims and loose-fitting clothing that covers arms and legs will help prevent at least some of the sun’s UV rays from being absorbed into your skin.

3. Protect your eyes. While skin protection gets more press, shielding your eyes from sun damage is also important. Exposing your eyes to too much sunlight can cause temporary forms of blindness, cataracts, macular degeneration, and even cancer. A good pair of polarized UV-blocking sunglasses is worth the investment, and there are all kinds of fun designs that come in kids’ sizes.

a young woman applies sunscreen while wearing a large hat

4. Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is a basic necessity for spending time outside. It’s important to choose a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens are especially effective for sunburn-prone areas like ears, faces, and shoulders. Many of these sunscreens make colorful, child-friendly versions that allow kids to decorate themselves as well as stay safe from the sun.

5. Be a good role model. Young people are always paying attention to the adults around them, so it’s very important to take care of yourself. If adults make good choices about sun safety, it will be easier for kids to buy in and pick up good habits for themselves.