Five Ways to Protect Your Kids From The Harmful Sun


When it comes to sun screen, our preference is California Baby Natural and Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30+. It's gentle on Ensen's skin and does a great job preventing sunburns. Photo credit: Nathan Kam

I’m trying to recall the last time I had a legitimate tan that covered more than 50 percent of my body. Nothing in recent memory comes to mind. Honestly, the last time was probably back in high school when my friends and I spent every summer day at the beach on the Big Island. Nowadays, I tend to sport a “farmers tan” after a nice day out on the golf course with my buddies.

Thinking back to those high school days, I was pretty reckless when it came to sun protection. In fact, I don’t recall using much sunscreen at all when I went to the beach. I would get so dark and burnt after the first couple of weeks that my body appeared immune to burning. Knowing what I know today about skin cancer and the dangers of getting too much sun, I was fortunate to escape without serious harm.

Kelly and I won’t be making those same mistakes today, especially with our kids. Ensen’s AYSO soccer season is in full swing, we find ourselves at the park three times a week. Luckily, practice is at 5 p.m. on weekdays without much sun, however, the games on Saturday take place between 8 to 11 a.m. and it can get pretty hot and sunny.

We may be THOSE over protective parents when it comes to sun exposure and our kids, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Kids don’t have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they’re outdoors.”

One can never be too cautious when it comes to the health and safety of our children, right?

I am happy to report that our family already practices what the CDC preaches. You can find the following information on their website:

  • Seek shade. Whenever possible, you’ll find us seeking shelter from the sun under a tree, under a pop-up tent, or with our trusty oversize golf umbrella in hand. According to the site, UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday. Some sun exposure is okay, but don’t let the sun get the best of you.
  • Cover up. When we know we’re going to be in the sun for longer than usual periods of time, we’ll dress in clothes that will help prevent exposure, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and covered shoes.
  • Get a hat. I’ve always enjoyed wearing hats from a young age and does the rest of our family. We typically wear baseball caps, which do a pretty good job of covering our face and scalp, but not so good at protecting our ears and neck. For the other exposed areas around our head, we always use sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses. Kelly and I both have glasses with transition lenses, which we love, especially when we’re in sunny places. Ensen and Avery also have multiple pairs of shades that they enjoy sporting outside that protect their eyes from the harmful UV rays. The CDC recommends looking for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Apply sunscreen. This one is a no-brainer and we always have some type of sunscreen with us at all times. I typically use sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher when I’m on the golf course. Our preferred brand for the kids is the California Baby Natural and Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30+, which is a non-chemical product that is great for children. The CDC recommends using sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time your child goes outside. “For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.”

The next time you head out for some fun in the sun, remember these simple tips to protect yourself and your family.

Nathan Kam is a Honolulu public-relations executive, husband and a proud daddy of two incredible kids, Ensen (5) and Avery (2). He enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, blogging and golfing. You can reach him via emailTwitterFacebookLinkedIn or via his personal Kam Family Blog.