Sun Protection

Sun Protection

Research has shown that nearly all skin cancers are tied to ultraviolet radiation, with links between sun exposure during childhood and higher skin cancer rates as an adult. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that time in the sun before age 18 accounts for 80 percent of one’s lifetime exposure — making protection a crucial goal for children.

Who is At Risk for Skin Cancer?

Children: A blistering sunburn before age 10 will double the likelihood of developing skin cancer at some point in life. The American Cancer Society uses the “SUN” guideline:

  • Shadow: If the shadow is shorter than the child, the sun is at its strongest and most dangerous point.
  • Ultraviolet: Ultraviolet sunblock with an SPF of 15 or higher should always be used if a child is exposed to sun.
  • Now: Protect children from the harmful effects of the sun now.
  • People with fair skin: The fairer or lighter the skin, the greater your risk. Also, those who are sensitive to the sun (who burn easily and do not tan easily) are at a greater risk.
  • People with dark brown and black skin: They are at risk as well, especially on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and under the nails.

Learn more about our advice on avoiding sunburns and other burn prevention tips. You can also learn about first-aid by signing up for one of our community classes.

Protective Clothing and the Sun

  • Hats: Find a hat that protects your face, ears, and neck from the sun. A baseball cap is probably not the best choice. Choose from wide-brimmed hats, pith helmets or hats with removable flaps. Ask yourself these questions when choosing a hat: 
  1. Is the hat cool enough to wear on a summer day?
  2. Is the hat comfortable?
  3. And most importantly, will you wear it?
    • Clothing: Long-sleeved shirts and pants may seem somewhat uncomfortable in the summer, but proper clothing can protect against the sun’s rays and decrease heat stress. Lightweight cotton fabrics that are light colored are the best choice.
    • Sunglasses: Choose a pair of sunglasses with a high UV rating (the percentage of ultraviolet rays that are blocked). The best UV rating is 100. If the manufacturer does not provide information, the glasses may not offer any protection.


Sunblock cannot take the place of protective clothing and should be used together for the best protection. Choose a sunblock with at least a SPF of 15 or more. (This means you are protected from a reaction to the sun’s rays 15 times longer than without the sunblock.) Read the label to know when to reapply and if the sunblock is waterproof.

Limiting Sun and Ultraviolet Exposure

  • Try to avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when ultraviolet rays are the strongest. Take the kids to the park, beach or outside in the early morning or later afternoon hours.
  • You can burn on a cloudy day just as easily as on a sunny day.
  • Just because you are in the water does not mean that you cannot get burned. The sun’s rays can penetrate through 3 feet of water.
  • The sun will also reflect off the water and the sand. A beach umbrella is great but may not provide you with all the protection you may need.
  • Do not use sun lamps, tanning parlors or tanning pills. They can be just as harmful as the sun.

St. Joseph’s Contact Information

For more information about injury prevention and other programs at St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocacy Center, please call (813) 615-0589 or visit us at 1401A East Fowler Ave., Tampa, Florida 33612.