Gathering the pride, packing up a picnic and hitting the beach or local park for an afternoon is one of the many joys of summertime.
However, staying safe when you’re out and about with little ones is paramount. In fact, Cancer Research UK suggests that 9 out of 10 cases of melanoma (that’s the most serious type of skin cancer) could be prevented through practicing good sun safety.
Here’s how you and your family can stay safe and still enjoy the sun…
Get your timings right
It’s better to gather the pride early in the day if you’re planning to be outside. Opt for shaded areas like under trees or umbrellas when the sun is at its most powerful (generally between 11am and 3pm).
Protect baby cubs in the sun
Babies’ skin is particularly susceptible to sun damage as it’s extremely sensitive. Lotions, creams and sprays can irritate young skin causing rashes, dryness and chafing. For that reason, the World Health Organisation recommend not using sunscreen on cubs under six months old.
Instead, make sure they’re well shielded from the sun with a wide-rimmed hat, sunglasses (you can get ones with handy cords to help keep them on) and kept in the shade if you are outside. Cover them up in lightweight clothing to keep them cool but well-protected. It’s also a good idea to get a sun protector for the car windows and for their pram or pushchair for extra sun safety.
Choose the right sunscreen for young lions
Once your cub is over six months old, it’s time to start using sunscreen. The NHS suggests opting for at least a factor 15 and using this on little ones between the months of March and October.
Look out for sunscreens that have ‘broad spectrum’ on the label – this means they protect from both UVA (skin damage) and UVB (sunburn).
Remember, all skin needs to be protected, even darker skin.If your little lion cubs have very light skin, freckles or a fair mane, you may wish to use a higher factor SPF.
Apply sunscreen correctly
Sun protection should be applied 20-30 minutes before you’re heading into the sun and then every two hours after that. If your cub is particularly active and getting sweaty or playing in water, you will need to re-apply more frequently.
Take care to apply sunscreen to every part of your child’s skin that’s not covered up by clothing. Remember the back of the neck, ears and shoulders as these are common areas that can be forgotten and risk getting burnt.
You may need to be creative when it comes to applying – making a game of it or singing a song together (The Circle of Life or Hakuna Matata get our vote!) can make things easier if you’re struggling.
If you’re using a spray SPF, avoid spraying directly on your child as it can be tricky to know how much you have applied – instead, spray it into your paws and then apply.
A SPF stick for the face can minimise the risk of getting suncream in the eye – we all know how painful that can be!
If you and the cubs are playing near the watering hole, it’s important to remember to reapply sun protection. The NHS recommends reapplying once you have towel dried. The cooling effect of the water can be deceptive and this could cause a burn without you realising. Plus, even ‘water-resistant’ SPFs can wash off in the water, so it’s safer to reapply.
Stay safe and enjoy the sun this summer!