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How to prevent children's sunburns

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Don't get burned!

Raise your hand if you've ever come home from the beach or the pool with a sunburn - even if you put on sunscreen. I see a few hands out there, but I know there are more of you. Yes, it's a little embarrassing when we know more than ever about sun safety - and a little guilt inducing if it's our kids who have the red skin.

Don't get burned!

We've all seen and read the news reports about the dangers of sun exposure, and we don't want it to happen. Since staying indoors all summer isn't necessarily an option (and the beach is so much fun!) find out why your child is susceptible to sunburns and how to prevent it.

Reflection of the water

While the sun isn't necessarily stronger at the beach than anywhere else, there is a factor you don't have elsewhere: reflection. Those UV rays are bouncing off the highly reflective surface of the water and getting, well, everywhere. It makes for not just a brighter environment (you need those sunglasses!) but a more intense light environment.

Losing track of time

When we are having fun at the beach, it's easy to lose track of time -- one hour becomes two or three or more. Not only are those rays bouncing around more, we're in those strong sun rays for longer stretches of time.

While it's better to stay out of the sun mid-day, when the sun is the strongest (about 10AM to 2PM), this losing track of time means that sometimes you are there during those more intense hours. So that means...

Put on sunscreen

Use on yourself and your kids the strongest sunscreen you can find (consider it preventative medicine!), put on more than you think you need. Really slather it on before you go out to the beach, and make sure you get all those nooks and crannies. Bathing suits have a tendency to move around (ever had one of those thin lines of burn?), so put the sunscreen on your naked body then put on your swimsuit.

A new study shows that many sunscreens contain chemicals harmful to you and your kids. Get the list here of family safe sunscreens.

cover up

You heard me! Even with a slathering of sunscreen, cover up a bit. A wide brimmed hat, oversized sunglasses and UV protective clothing. You can enjoy the sun without baking! And if you have a beach umbrella, sit under it. With the way sun bounces around at the beach, you'll still get some sun, just hopefully not a painful, burning dose.

and put on sunscreen again

Reapply the sunscreen several times during the day, and more frequently if you or your kids have been in the water. Set a timer of you need to! Every couple of hours, reapply the sunscreen. Consider it a good thing if your family goes through a whole bottle of sunscreen in a day.

The beach is so much fun, but sunburns are not. With some beach sun safety consideration, you can enjoy the sun and the sand without putting your skin at extreme risk.

More on safe summer fun:

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