Your backyard swimming pool comes with so many opportunities for exercise as well as family fun and easy entertaining! Unfortunately, it can also come with some added safety risks. The first one, of course, is that of drowning. But a secondary issue, that can become more of a tendency when you’re spending added hours outdoors, is dangerous exposure to the UV rays of the sun. This danger becomes even more significant for young children, whose skin is especially vulnerable. Sunburn, as unpleasant as it is, is not the only concern: UV radiation can cause skin cancer and premature signs of aging, even when it does not cause sunburn. If that surprises you, you may be like most parents, who unwittingly hold many misconceptions about sunscreen, as recorded by Dr. Sarah DeHaan, from the University of Michigan.
Misconception #1: Cloudy Days Are Freebies
Even parents who are extremely vigilant about applying sunscreen on sunny days often fail to re-apply sunscreen on their children when the clouds come out. Did you know that clouds actually don’t block all the UV rays? They do reduce some UV rays, but not the UVA rays that penetrate clouds and can bounce off reflective surfaces (which is precisely what makes those who are in or near water even more susceptible to sun damage).
Misconception #2: Having a Sun Tan or Dark Skin Tone Protects You
As many people know, darker skin does naturally include more pigment, or melanin, which filters out some UV radiation. While those with less melanin will more easily experience sunburn, any skin can become burned. However, those with darker skin tones are actually at greater risk of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Black people, in particular, are more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer only once it’s reached the more advanced stages, making treatment difficult and less successful; their survival rate is, as a result, significantly lower (24% lower over a 5-year period).
Misconception #3: Waterproof Sunscreen Lives Up to Its Name
In order to bear the label “water resistant,” sunscreen must be able to prove that it is still effective for 40-80 minutes even when someone is swimming or sweating. But first, note that the timeframe is less than 1.5 hours! Also note that any product will eventually wash off when a person is fully immersed in water. Those considerations combine to underscore the importance of frequent reapplication of sunscreen, especially for active, playful children.
In our next post in this series, we’ll take a look at a couple more myths regarding sun protection. The more accurate information you know about this important topic, the better you’ll be able to protect your family and wholeheartedly enjoy your outdoor space and fabulous swimming pool this summer!
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