Practicing good sun safety is important at any age, but it is especially important for children since much of a person’s lifetime exposure to the sun occurs before age 18. Arizona residents are at risk for developing skin cancer because our sunny state has areas of high environmental exposure and limited protection. It’s hard to avoid the sun in our state. Even though the sun provides vitamin D, too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer, which is the most diagnosed cancer in the United States.

It is estimated by the American Cancer Society that Arizona will have more than 1,400 new cases of melanoma this year, which is why Arizona was one of the first states in the nation to teach sun safety education in schools and in child care through our SunWise Program and the Empower Program.

The Empower Program reaches children in licensed early care and education facilities throughout Arizona. Empower has won numerous awards for being a best practice; most recently, the program received the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs National Best Practice Award.

Our SunWise Skin Cancer Prevention School Program offers a free curriculum that teaches students how to protect themselves from skin cancer. Through education and training, our SunWise Program shows Arizona families how to enjoy the sunshine safely. To receive the curriculum email [email protected]. Requests will be filled within 48 hours. SunWise also offers resources on physical education curriculum, a tip sheet, activity sheets and more.

The hot summer months are quickly approaching, so remember to wear sunscreen every day. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can still damage your skin. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or sooner if sweating or engaging in water activities.

It’s also important to protect your eyes from the sun too. Wearing sunglasses can reduce sun exposure that can damage your eyes and lead to cataracts. Check the label on your sunglasses and choose sunglasses that block at least 90 percent of UVA and UVB rays. By protecting your skin from the sun and avoiding indoor tanning, you are well on your way to protecting yourself from getting skin cancer. We hope you enjoy the sunshine safely this year.