Stepping out into sunshine and fresh air can definitely put a smile on your face. But after too much time exposed to those powerful rays, the outdoors go from warm and welcoming to hot and dangerous.
Sun exposure is an important source of vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones. But researchers suggest that 5 to 30 minutes of sun at least twice a week is usually enough to meet the vitamin D needs of most people.
So, it’s extremely important to our long-term health that we take time to lather on sunscreen, find some shade and protect ourselves when we’re enjoying time outside. Even on cloudy days, damaging UV rays are reaching us.
Keeping Kids Protected
Melanoma can develop later in life from just one severe childhood sunburn. If possible, limit your kids’ sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when it’s the strongest.
Here are some rules to live by when it comes to sun protection:
Clothing: One of the best ways to protect your children is to dress them in a brimmed hat and light-colored, tightly woven clothes. Experts recommend lightweight long sleeves and long pants.
Sunglasses: Childhood sun exposure can also damage the eyes’ lenses and retinas and lead to cataracts later in life. Children and babies should wear sunglasses even if they’re in the sun for a short time. Buy sunglasses that say “blocks 99% of UV rays” or “UV absorption to 400 nm.”
Sunscreen: Cover all exposed skin with broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. “Broad-spectrum” guards against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply every two hours. It’s best to keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun completely or shade their carriage or stroller with an umbrella. Sunscreen use should be avoided if possible in babies younger than 6 months. If adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands.
Don’t Forget the Grownups
Every member of the family should be using sunscreen during your days at the parks. Ideally, you should be applying it 30 minutes before sun exposure to give it time to work. A small amount of sunscreen applied in a thin layer frequently is more effective than slathering on a paste of sunblock in the morning only. Proper application and reapplication are two keys to prevention of sun-related problems.
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 15 SPF. Consider using a water-resistant kind and be sure to reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying. Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.
Enjoying the sun safely will ensure your family has the amazing Disney experience you deserve. Make sure you pack the right gear (or pick some up while you’re here) and be mindful of those powerful Florida rays.