Children in the Sun

  • Over half of Ontario children spend at least two hours in the summer sun.
  • Children’s eyes have large pupils and clear lenses, allowing a lot of sunlight to enter.
  • Ultraviolet rays can harm the eyes at any time of day and all year round, even when it’s cloudy.

Sun Exposure and Your Skin and Eyes

Exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to:

  • Skin cancer
  • Eye lesions
  • Skin damage
  • Cataracts
  • Sunburns
  • Retinal burns

Children are often outside when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are the strongest.

Protect Your Skin and Eyes from the Sun

Time of Day: If you can, limit time in the sun when the ultraviolet Index is three or higher, usually between 11 am to 3 pm.

Shade: Seek shade or make shade by using an umbrella, a ultraviolet protective tent or pop-up shade shelter. Keep babies younger than one year of age out of direct sunlight.

Cover Up: Wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible or ultraviolet-protective clothing. Wear a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap with flaps that cover the head, neck and ears.

Sunscreen: Apply plenty of sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or more, labelled ‘broad spectrum’ and ‘water resistant’. Reapply when needed (especially after swimming, sweating, or towelling). Use a sunscreen lip balm.

Sunglasses: Wear close fitting/wrap-around sunglasses with ultraviolet 400 or 100% ultraviolet protection. Children’s and babies’ sunglasses should be unbreakable.

Things to Avoid

  • Children and teens should avoid getting a tan or a sunburn.
  • Don’t expose children to ultraviolet rays to meet vitamin D needs. Use food or supplements instead.

Reproduced with permission from the Ontario Sun Safety Working Group, 2017.