Kids living in South Florida have a lot of exposure to the sun. Kids need enough sunlight to stay healthy but too much sunlight can cause heat stroke or sun damage. As a safe and reputable summer camp, sun safety is very important to us and we understand that every child has different levels of sun sensitivity that must be accounted for.
According to the CDC, your child’s skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes. Skin may turn pink during or immediately after sun exposure, but the full extent of a sunburn will not appear until 12 hours later.
The Sun & Vitamin D
Your body only produces enough vitamin D if it gets adequate exposure to the sun. It is estimated that millions of children in the US are deficient in vitamin D because they don’t get enough sun exposure. And it gets worse; 9% of kids 21 and younger are dangerously deficient in vitamin D, or rather have under 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood. At levels this low a young child would be at risk for bone-warping rickets.
When kids are deficient in vitamin D it leads to weak bones, high blood sugar, heart disease and high blood pressure. The average person obtains around 80% of their daily vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is also obtained through certain foods, but you’d have to a drink an entire quart of milk to receive the full 400 IU of vitamin D recommended for children. No one should drink that that much milk. Therefore, it’s best to source vitamin D from the sun and food.
Kids can also get vitamin D from a pill, but the safest and most natural way to get healthy doses of vitamin D is by spending enough time in the sun.
How much time can kid’s spend in the sun without sunscreen?
The answer to this question largely depends on each child and their tendency to burn. Fair skinned children should spend very little time in the sun without protection or else they can burn very badly. All it takes is 15 minutes without sunblock for lighter skin tones to burn. Olive skin can take 3 to 6 times as much sunshine to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a fair skinned individual.
You know your child best. Give them a few minutes of unprotected sunshine each day. Just enough to keep them healthy without their skin turning pink or burning.
Why are so many kids deficient in vitamin D?
Common causes of vitamin D deficiency:
-Children that are always covered from head to toe when they are out in the sun.
-Children that spend most of their day inside.
-The rise of video games, smartphones and other forms of technology keep kids inside more often than in the past.
-Children with a condition that impacts the body’s ability to produce and control vitamin D levels, such as kidney disease, liver disease or coeliac disease.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
-Delayed motor development
-Weakness of muscles
-Unexplained aches and pains
-Weakened immune system, getting sick more often than usual
Sun Smart Tips For Kids
Mild vitamin D deficiencies usually come with a prescription to get more sun. Thankfully, living in Southern Florida makes this possible nearly 365 days a year, at least for part of the day. While sun exposure is so important, it’s just as important you don’t overdo it.
-Once kids get enough sun on their skin to benefit without burning, make sure to layer on healthy sunscreen and plenty of lightweight clothing that covers skin. Hats and glasses are great accessories to keep the sun off of your child’s sensitive face.
-Take your child out of the sun the moment you notice his or her skin turning pink. Pink skin today can transform into very red and burned skin tomorrow.
-The sun can be the most dangerous on cloudy days when you don’t expect a thing.
-Many popular name brand sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that can be just as damaging over the long run as too much sun exposure. Thankfully, there are plenty of safe sunscreen alternatives on the market. Some safe and healthy sunscreens to look out for include All Good, Sunology, Burn Out Kids, Tru Kid, California Baby, Goddess Garden, and Badger.
Talk to us about your child’s specific needs and sun sensitivities. We do everything in our power to keep our campers as safe in the sun as possible!