As cooler temperatures arrive, parents are unpacking sweaters, scarves and gloves. Unfortunately, many of them are also packing away sunglasses and sunscreen from summer. Most parents layer on the sun protection during the summer, but what about winter months? Consider the facts that 80% of sun damage children will receive occurs before the age of 18, and just one sunburn in childhood can increase the risks of melanoma in adulthood. Kids participating in winter activities, like skiing, snowboarding, or even snowball fights in the backyard face just as much risk for getting sunburned as they do at the beach!
Snow amplifies the burning potential of the sun by reflecting the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) that causes sunburns. In fact, snow reflects about 85% of the sun’s rays, while water reflects 100%. At higher elevations, where skiers and snowboarders generally play, the thinner atmosphere screens out significantly less of the incoming UVR than it does at lower elevations.
Baby BanZ offers these tips for staying protected all year:
Don’t forget the eyes! Sunlight reflecting off snow, sand or water further increases exposure to UV radiation, increasing the risk of developing eye problems such as cataracts. Long hours on the beach or in the snow without adequate eye protection can result in a short-term condition known as photokeratitis, or reversible sunburn of the cornea. This painful condition–also known as “snow blindness”-can cause temporary loss of vision.
When buying sunglasses, look for a label that specifically offers 100% UV protection. This assures that the glasses block both UVA and UVB radiation. Children should wear real sunglasses-not toy sunglasses-that indicate the UV protection level. Dark or tinted eyewear sold as fashion accessories may provide little or no protection from UV or visible light. Polycarbonate lenses are the most shatter-resistant.
Sunscreen. When selecting a sunscreen, look for the label “broad spectrum (UVA/UVB)” and a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Since sunscreen isn’t fully effective right away, apply sunscreen half an hour before going out in the sun. Then reapply it generously and often- don’t forget the ears, neck and hands. Discard old or expired sunscreen.
Hat. Wear a wide-brim hat that protects the face and back of the neck.
Peak Hours. The most significant sun exposure occurs between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. During these times put on extra sunscreen or take a break from the sun and get some lunch.
Shari M. Murphy
North American Operations Manager (and mom of 5)
Baby Banz, Inc.
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