Should play cease when the UV is high?
At Cancer Council WA, the start of summer brings higher UV levels and questions from child care services about ceasing play when the UV reaches certain levels, usually 8.
While it is up to individual centres to rule on this, Cancer Council advice is to promote active play while being SunSmart.
Cancer Council WA states in its SunSmart Centres policy that services will “ensure a combination of sun protection measures are applied to children and staff while outside when the UV is 3 or above”. Active play is to be encouraged year round.
We do not require child care services to cease outdoor play when the UV reaches a certain level. However we do recommend that if possible, outdoor experiences are rescheduled to minimise time outdoors when the UV Index is 8 and above. But we understand that sometimes children may need to burn off some energy. If that is when the UV is above 8, that’s OK, so long as they are being fully SunSmart.
Remember, the higher the UV Index, the faster the skin can be damaged. UV levels peak around midday every day.
Here’s some recommendations for outdoor play when the UV level is high (for children over 12 months of age):
- Check the current UV at www.myuv.com.au or on the free SunSmart app
- Ensure that activities are set up in the shade, not in full sun
- Shorten activities so that children are not outside for too long
- Be extra vigilant with hats, sunscreen and sun protective clothing
- Re-schedule extended play times for early morning or late afternoon
- Many child care services have lunch and rest time in the middle of the day when the UV is at its peak, which will reduce exposure to high UV levels
- Infants under 12 months of age should not be exposed to direct sunlight when the UV is 3 or above
- Remember sun protection for staff!
Allowing adequately sun protected children short periods of outside play when the UV is over 8 is within the guidelines of the SunSmart Centres program.
Sun protection and babies (0-12 months)
It is important to ensure that babies are well protected from the sun. Childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to the lifetime risk of skin cancer, and babies’ skin can burn easily.
Cancer Council recommends keeping babies away from direct sunlight as much as possible when UV levels are 3 or above. Plan daily activities to ensure the baby is well protected from the sun and aim to minimise time outside when UV levels are at their strongest.
When this is not possible, ensure that babies are protected from the sun by shade, protective clothing and a hat. Check the baby’s clothing, hat and shade positioning regularly to ensure he/she continues to be well protected from UV.
The widespread use of sunscreen on babies under six months is not generally recommended.
Some parents may choose to use sunscreen occasionally on small parts of their baby’s skin – if that’s the case parents should be careful to choose a sunscreen that is suitable for babies – they may wish to seek the advice of a doctor or pharmacist. Sunscreens for babies usually use reflecting ingredients such as zinc and avoid ingredients and preservatives that may cause reactions in young skin. It’s also important to perform a usage test first.