Implementing a Sun Protection Policy for Children? Here's What You Need to Know
Australia's bright and wonderful sunlight is not without its drawbacks. Two out of every three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, with 95% to 99% of these cancers being caused by overexposure to the sun. Being smart about the sun should begin at a very early age. While many schools and kindergartens already have a sun protection policy, this is not always the case with after school and holiday childcare facilities. This is not to say that these facilities disregard the danger of the sun, but smaller operations will often take a common sense approach. But is this enough? Perhaps you work at a childcare facility or perhaps you are considering sending your child to one. If the facility does not yet have a sun protection policy, it's time to implement one.
It is commonplace in most schools across Australia that children are simply not permitted to go outside to play without a hat that offers an appropriate level of protection from the sun. This is an easy aspect of sun protection that should be part of any policy. Children should always bring their own hats from home. Be wary about having a number of hats to provide to children, as this increases the possibility of spreading head lice.
It's not always possible for childcare facilities to provide sunblock. There is the possibility of allergies and some parents may not want to use a particular brand because of the additives contained in some sunblocks. It should be reinforced that children need to have sunblock applied before coming to childcare, and parents can also leave a supply of their preferred brand at the facility. You can make this a learning experience by teaching children how to properly apply sunblock themselves.
There might be a reasonable amount of shade protection around your facility, but this is not always sufficient. Shade sails should be installed. Opt for a specialist provider that is able to provide a large scale shade that can cover a play area and even playground equipment. Turn your child care facility into a shade sail school!
Sun Protection Times
Ultra violet light can be more potent at certain times of the day (and year). It should become habit for a designated person to check the UV service offered by the Bureau of Meteorology. This allows you to identify times of day in your area when UV light is at its strongest. You might wish to limit outside playtime during these times or even allocate this time for indoor play.
If you are in the process of implementing a sun protection policy, please ensure that the policy is clear and understandabe and that all staff members and parents receive a copy, whether physical or electronic.