Summer sun protection tips for the whole family

sunSummer is right around the corner, and families will spend more time outdoors. Exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays increases the risk of skin cancer, which is why proper sun protection is essential. In fact, the sun’s UV rays are responsible for about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas.

“Exposure to UV radiation is directly linked to all three forms of skin cancer,” said Perry Robins, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “By adopting good sun safety habits families can enjoy summer outdoor activities without increasing their skin cancer risk.”

The Skin Cancer Foundation offers the following tips to help families enjoy a sun-safe summer:


At the beach

Use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

Cover up with clothing. Look for high-UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) swim shirts or rash guards, and choose bathing suits that cover more skin, like one-piece suits and long trunks. Make sure to apply and reapply sunscreen to exposed areas of the skin not covered by fabric. To help avoid missing spots apply sunscreen before putting on your bathing suit. When shopping for high-UPF clothing, look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.

Avoid tanning. There is no such thing as a safe tan, because tanning itself is caused by DNA damage to the skin. In addition to increasing skin cancer risk, tanning also leads to premature skin aging, including wrinkles, leathery skin and age spots.


At summer camp

Remind kids to seek the shade. Advise kids to play in shaded areas to limit UV exposure. Check with counselors to see if there are adequate places for campers to seek shade during outdoor activities taking place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are most intense.

Dress kids in sun-protective clothing. For optimal protection from the sun, send kids to camp in sun-protective clothing. Look for tightly woven or knit, dark- or bright- colored fabrics, which offer the best protection. Don’t forget wide-brimmed hats and wraparound, UV-blocking sunglasses.

Practice sunscreen application beforehand. Teach children to apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons, or about the size of a golf ball) of sunscreen to all exposed areas 30 minutes before outdoor activities. Remind them to cover easily missed areas such as the back of the neck and tops of the ears. If camp rules allow, ask counselors to help children reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or excessive sweating.


On the Road

Treat your vehicle to window film. Car windows don’t provide complete sun protection. Though UVB radiation is effectively blocked by glass, more than 60 percent of UVA radiation can pass through windows. UV-protective film, also known as window film, blocks out up to 99.9 percent of UV radiation. If you have window film installed, remember that it protects you only when the windows are closed. When shopping for window film, check to see if the product has The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.

Drivers beware. Nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the US occur on the left, or drivers’ side of the body. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen, particularly when spending extended time in a car that has no window film.

Additional Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

Do not burn. At any age, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has ever had five or more sunburns.

Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of six months.

— The Skin Cancer Foundation

There were jobs

By Scott Funk

The other night, I was washing the windshield of my car. As I squeegeed the water off, the memory of a Texaco Man cleaning my dad’s windshield came to my mind. That was how I learned to squeegee a windshield, by watching the “man behind the star” doing his job.

Young people today can’t imagine it, but there was a time when a man hurried out to your car to pump your gas. It was a ritual. “Fill ’er up sir? Check your water and oil? How about I check the tire pressure, too??” He wore a clean, pressed shirt and slacks with a bow tie. Some wore a cap and some didn’t, but they were spotless and they were friendly. If you were lost, the chances were good they could get you where you were going, complete with a free map.

Back then you just didn’t get gas; you got a collectable glass, as well. It was service and it was extras. All that, plus service, for just 35 cents a gallon.

Then, along came rising gas prices and self-serve stations. Away went the Texaco Man and thousands like him. Gone with them were the friendly greeting, the service, and the helpful directions with a complimentary map.

What did we get in return? Well, the system is now faster because we all hop out and pump the gas ourselves. (Unless the guy ahead of you leaves his car at the pump and goes inside to use the facilities and shop.) Forget about extras and don’t even try to ask directions, because the kids working in the store barely know how to get from their houses to the station and back.

So, a little bit of what was America has slipped away without any benefit to anyone except the oil companies, but what does it matter? We all have GPSs, so no one gets lost any more. We don’t need that man with the friendly smile, either. We are all fine on our own, pumping our own gas, standing next to people we don’t know who are pumping their own gas, too.

They talk on the news about how our jobs have gone overseas because of outsourcing. That may be true, but some of the jobs just went away because we settled for less.

There was a slower time when people did things because people liked having things done by people. The feeling was that we were all in this together. Each working person valued the importance of other working people.

None of this really mattered much to me until recently. It appears I’m getting old enough to be nostalgic. Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident, and while it may not have been better before it sometimes seems like it.


Scott Funk is Vermont’s leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families. You can access previous Aging in Place columns and Scott’s blogs at His new e-book is available on Amazon.