Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parents urged to check sun safety at child care

As thousands of preschool children head back to kindergarten and childcare centres around the country this week, parents are being reminded to check on their centres sun safety policy, and that it is actually being followed.

The call comes from Louisa Currie and Heidi Riley of online baby boutique Belly Beyond, who specialise in UV protective clothing for babies and toddlers.  The Auckland business women have both lost family members to melanoma and are highlighting the issue after learning of the horrific incident last year where an Australian toddler received second degree sunburn while at his local childcare centre.

"New Zealand has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world" says Louisa "and research shows the majority of skin damage occurs when we are kids".  Heidi adds "Young children are totally reliant on their caregivers to ensure they are safe from the sun and the main point that needs to be emphasised is that the cancer causing UV rays do penetrate though cloud cover, so sun safety applies even on cloudy days".

At this time, the Ministry of Education does not have a dedicated sun safety policy for early childhood centres.

Parents can do their part by making sure a good sunblock is applied prior to dropping children off and ensuring their kids have a hat and are wearing t-shirts and three-quarter pants rather than singlets and shorts.

"It doesn't take long to apply sunblock and even less time to pop a hat on". says Louisa. "And if a few minutes a day is all it takes to reduce the risk of melenoma and skin cancer, then few people would argue it's not worth it."

What to ask your Early Childhood Education Centre:

* do you have sunblock available for use or if not can I bring in sunblock for you to apply to my child?
* do you scheduled times of application when outside play is occuring?
* does the centre have lots of shaded play areas?
* are children encouraged to wear hats outside?

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