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Safe in the Sun

How to keep children safe in the sun

Summer is great, with warmer weather and more time to be outside, however the sun can cause damage to our children’s delicate skins and it is important to know how to stay safe:

Don't burn!

The sun’s UV rays can quickly damage children’s skin, even on a cloudy day. Children with blond or red hair and light coloured skin are more prone to sunburn than those with dark eyes and skin as they have less protective melanin to reflect and absorb the sun’s rays. However children with darker skin still burn, it just longer.

To avoid sunburn:

  • 1. Always wear appropriate sunscreen, apply all over the face and body and re-apply it every 2-3 hours, especially if sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
    2. Take particular care if swimming or boating as the reflection from the water intensifies the sun’s rays
    3. Wear tightly woven clothes that you can’t see the light through or with sun factor
    4. Take frequent breaks from the sun by going indoors or moving into the shade.
    5. Avoid being out in the sun between 11:00 am and 3:00pm, when the sun's rays are strongest.
    6. Wear a hat, ideally with an SPF factor, wide brim and ear cover.
    7. Wear sunglasses

If burnt: Cool the area under a shower for at least 10 minutes, or apply repeated cool wet towels for 15 minutes. When completely cooled, apply Aloe Vera gel to the affected area, this will soothe, reduce swelling and promote healing. Give the child plenty to drink and Calpol for the pain.


Drink lots of water, particularly if running around, as dehydration can quickly lead to heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion can come on suddenly, the child may have a raised temperature, feel sick, dizzy, headachy, or have stomach ache and feel sick and it can lead to collapse. They need to re-hydrate fast, ideally with Dioralyte, water or an isotonic sports drink.

Key advice: Combine sufficient sunscreen, appropriate clothing and shade with lots of drinks, and enjoy the Summer!

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

It is strongly advised that parents attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

Emma Hammett
First Aid for Life