Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mum stuff | Are you teaching your kids to be SunSmart?

This week is National Skin Cancer Action Week, and its a cause close to my heart...

This year, Cancer Council is focusing on teenagers and their sun behaviours and attitudes. The Cancer Council are promoting the “Original Skin: Keep it real this summer” campaign which encourages all Australians to embrace their natural skin colour.
Did you know Australian adolescents have the highest incidence of malignant melanoma in the world? Scary.
As a pre-teen, I would spend all summer swimming in the pool or at the beach. My nose, shoulders and back would burn and peel quite regularly.  Then as a teenager, my friends and I would have competitions to see whose legs could go the brownest. I used to bathe myself in baby oil and sit on the hot garage roof. Absolutely stupid behaviour.  I was NOT SunSmart at all. I have fair skin and freckle very easily. More than likely, the damage has already been done.  Over the last 20 years, I have avoided the sun. The whole thought of being burnt freaks me out.
My Dad spent a lot of time in the sun as a teenager too, and he's now paying the price. He has had numerous skin cancers removed; the most recent one from the top of his head. I will spare you the photos he texted me because its terribly gruesome (it goes down to the skull and is about 6cm in diameter), however the cancer they removed was malignant. The scary kind. Thankfully test results show that they were able to remove the whole lot. The skin graft they took from his chest, and transplanted onto his head, has taken really well. We joked that they should have taken a piece that had hair so that he could grow a comb over. lol. This time he was lucky. Dad is vigilant and has his skin checked every few months.  I should get checked as well. I'm well overdue.
So, what can you and your children do to be SunSmart?
  1. Slip on sun protective clothing. Cover as much of you skin as possible, particularly when UV rays are at their strongest.  Wear a long sleeved rash vest when you go swimming. As cute as little girls swimmers can be, you need to cover them up!

  2. Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen and don't forget to reapply every two hours! If you go swimming, you will need to reapply sooner. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outside. Don't forget to put some on the tops of  your ears and along the edges of shirts and shorts. Pets can get sunburned too, particularly white dogs. Pop some on their nose, ears and skin.

  3. Slap on a hat. Caps may look cool, but they offer no protection to your ears or the back of your neck. The best styles are a wide brimmed hat, legionnaires style or bucket hat. Start getting your baby/toddler used to wearing a hat every time you go outside. By the time they're a little older, it will be second nature to put one on. Most schools have a "no hat, no play" policy, so make sure your child takes a hat every day...and buy a spare just in case...they tend to get lost.

  4. Seek shade. During the most dangerous times of the day, when UV rays are at extreme levels, seek protection from the sun. Make use of trees, awnings, or bring your own shade. There are plenty of good ones available on the market that are reasonably priced. Picnics are fun, but not if you're all burnt at the end of the day.

  5. Slide on some sunglasses. You can reduce UV exposure to your eyes by up to 98% by wearing  sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat. Once again, get your babies/toddlers used to wearing sunglasses early. You can even purchase sunglasses with soft straps that go around babies head so they can't easily remove them.
These tips aren't multiple choice. They go together. By using all of these protective measures, you will reduce your risk of skin cancer.  For more information, please visit the Cancel Council's website, and show your support by spreading the word and/or making a donation.

For your info, and mine, I have added a UV rating meter on my sidebar. Check it daily to see what your risk is...or add it to your own blog.

Stay SunSafe, and remember...your natural skin colour is beautiful! There's no need to tan.

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