Reviewing your sun protection policies
With summer fast approaching now is a great time to review your sun protection policies. Australia has the highest incidence on skin cancer in the world and overexposure to the sun in childhood is known to be a major cause of skin cancer in later life.
Child care providers are required to have a sun protection policy and to met sun protection requirements to meet the licensing and accreditation standards set by the NCAC.
The SunSmart Early Childhood Program was set up by the state based Cancer Councils to help child care providers devise and implement sun safe policies.
The program can also help child care providers bring out-of-date sun protection policies up-to-date with current recommendations.
The SunSmart Program was designed for all child care providers including family day carers, long day care centres, occasional care centres, preschools, work based services and mobile services and hundreds of providers across the country have already signed up.
According to the Cancer Council a sun protection policy should clearly outline a service's policies and procedures with regard to protecting children and staff at the centre from UV radiation including:
As with all policy and procedure documents a sun protection policy should be written in straightforward language and made available for parents and visitors to the centre to review.
- Minimising outdoor play during peak UV periods.
- Using shade for outdoor play
- Use of sun safe hats and protective clothing
- Use of sun screen
- Education about sun protection
- Role modeling so staff are a positive influence on children
The Cancer Council identifies the five main ways to protect children and staff from the effects of the sun as follows:
For additional information on how to ensure your staff and children are safe in the sun, including template sun protection policies and teaching resources visit the SunSmart website in your state:
- 1. Minimise the time spent outdoors during peak UV periods.
- From October to March outdoor activity should be minimised between 11am and 3pm and protective clothing, hats and sunscreen should be used at all times when staff and children are outside.
- From April to September outdoor activity can take place at any time during the day and protective clothing, hats and sunscreen are required between 10am and 2pm except in June and July when UV radiation tends to be lower. Please note there are some exceptions to this rule depending on which part of the country your service is located. Contact your local Cancer Council for more information.
- 2. Use shade for outdoor play
Staying in the shade is one of the most effective ways to reduce sun exposure because it blocks or filters UV rays. However, shade doesn't guarantee total protection so hats, protective clothing and sunscreen should still be used.
- 3. Use the right hat
Well designed hats with broad brims which extend right the way around can significantly reduce UV exposure to the face, neck, ears and head. SunSmart recommended hats for children include:
- Broad-brimmed hats with a brim size of at least 6cm
- Bucket style hats with a brim size of at least 5cm and a deep crown
- Legionnaire hats
Recommended hats for adults are:
- Broad-brimmed hats with a brim size of at least 7.5cm
- Bucket style hats with a brim size of at least 6cm and a deep crown
- Legionnaire hats
Baseball caps and sun visors are not recommended as they don't protect the neck, ears and cheeks.
- 4. Wear protective clothing
Clothing reduces the skin's exposure to UV radiation by creating a barrier to the skin. For the best UV protection staff and children in child care centres should cover as much skin as possible, especially the shoulders and back.
Recommended clothes include: loose fitting shirts or dresses with collars and sleeves, trousers, long skirts and shorts.
- 5. Apply SPF30+ broad spectrum sun screen before going outside
Sunscreen protects exposed skin and should be applied 20 minutes before staff and children go outside and every two hours after the first application.
Centres should use a sunscreen that:
- Has a sun protection factor of 30+, this is the highest available in Australia.
- Is water resistant and broad spectrum. Broad spectrum sun screens block out both UVA and UVB rays both of which contribute to sunburn, premature skin aging and cancer.
- Sunscreens do not block 100 per cent of UV rays and should be used in conjunction with clothing, hats, sunglasses and shade.