Sun Safety Tips for Families

Published on April 07, 2021 - Updated on April 07, 2021

How to use your sun safety smarts while enjoying the outdoors!

When warmer days are afoot, it’s natural to feel a pull towards enjoying the great outdoors. But, as any parent or caregiver knows, being ‘sun smart’ is an important part of enjoying time outside. With a few simple tips, you’ll be on your way to sun-safe adventures in no time!

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Choose a Great Sunblock

When picking out sunblock, there are a few key points to consider. First, of course, the level of protection matters. I personally don’t choose any sunblock with less than a minimum of 50 SPF. Children have much thinner skin than adults, so the sun damages their skin much more easily. A sunblock with an SPF of 50 means it allows only 2% of the sun’s rays to penetrate the block. Also look for a ‘broad spectrum’ sunblock, as this indicates it protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Other considerations for choosing sunblock for kids include avoiding as many harsh chemicals as you can. Most children’s sunblock includes far less of these chemicals than regular sunblock does. You should look for a sunblock that contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are physical barriers, which are less likely to be absorbed into the skin than ingredients in chemical sunblock.

Be sure to apply sunblock about 20 minutes prior to heading out into the sun. Don’t forget to reapply every 1-2 hours! And, if swimming is on the menu, apply more often, every hour for sure.

If you have a kiddo who resists sunblock application, head to the art store and pick out a few cheap paintbrushes. Then, let your child “paint” themselves with sunblock! This tip really does make the whole process as fun as it sounds!

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Consider UPF Clothing

There are so many great options out there for sun-safe clothing. My own choices for warm weather recreation include UPF swim pants (these are awesome for kayaking and long days swimming). I also have a super cute oversized SPF wrap I use all the time. The wrap is great to throw on your shoulders over tank tops, plus the kids love to snuggle into it in the car for naps when it’s sunny outside.

I have my kiddos wear UPF rash guards pretty much all summer long. Target has a great selection of kids’ rash guards, as do many other retailers. Target has now started carrying UPF shorts for kids, as well. Most rash guards offered at major commercial retailers will likely have a rating of UPF 50+ which means the clothing blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays. A UPF 50 is an excellent rating.

If big-box retailers bust the budget, head to the thrift shop instead. The thrift shop down the road from our house consistently carries rash guards for kids, and they typically cost a dollar or two. You typically just have to know where to look. Another option if you’re short on time is to call up the shop and ask if they carry SPF clothing for kids.

Hats are a must. It’s taken me many years to learn this, but it’s true. Keeping kids’ faces constantly sunblocked while playing in the sun is no small feat. While I still insist they wear sunblock too, a sun hat will do wonders for helping to stay sun safe.

Beware of Mid-day Sun

The sun’s rays are most harmful between 10 am and 4 pm each day, but it’s especially important to protect your skin from the sun around the noon hour. I’ve always made a point of trying to minimize the time we spend in full sun, even with protection, around the noon hour in the summertime. Honestly, it doesn’t have to mean avoiding outdoor adventures or staying indoors all day. It just means I try to time things like naps, or at least lunch in full shade, around that high noon time frame. Once you get into the habit of this, it’s really quite simple to implement, and it surely doesn’t take away from daily fun in the sun.

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A few last tips

Another tip for staying safe in the sun includes being aware of the UV level in your area, especially during the summer months. There are a number of websites that provide localized UV information, either by the daily UV high or even hourly. This can help you plan effectively for your day. In order to be truly ‘sun smart’ don’t forget to apply sunblock even on overcast days, as clouds do NOT block harmful UVA and UVB rays. And be sure to check the expiration date on your sunblock! Yes, it does expire, and the general rule is it should be replaced after one year.

Please tag your highlights enjoying fresh air and sunshine safely on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!!

We also welcome you to explore our blog for more inspiration such as Build a Summer Bucket List and Camping, Glamping, or RV Travel: What Suits Your Family? or take a few moments to check out our Summer Road Trip Destinations in Maryland to make sure you're ready to give summer all you’ve got!!

Enjoying our content? Download the happyly app, the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to ambassador-approved parks, playgrounds, hikes, water activities, kid-friendly restaurants and much, much more. With happyly, your family will always have fresh ideas for five-star family fun at your fingertips both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.

Thoughtfully captured by:
Heidi Keller
Heidi Keller was born in the mountains of Northern Idaho, and raised in Minnesota. She completed her undergraduate degrees at the University of Minnesota and has begun graduate studies through the University of North Dakota. She fell in love with traveling at a young age, and her passion has only grown since then. She is passionate about photography, traveling, scuba diving, reading, nature, and any creative projects. But, most of all, she's passionate about spending quality time with her kiddos. She is also an advocate for making reading together a core part of family life with kiddos.
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