Sun Safety for Children

Keeping Children Safe

Early years practitioners have a duty of care to keep children safe and healthy. Children are cared for throughout the year and every season presents its own challenges: during the summer practitioners must consider sun safety. 

It is good practice to ask parents for a labelled bottle of sun cream early in the year along with a cap or sunhat which can be stored in the provision ready for the warmer weather. Parents must also sign a permission form to give practitioners permission to apply sun cream through the day – this can simply state ‘I give permission for my childminder to apply sun cream to my child’s skin throughout the day’. You would then note when the cream has been applied, for parents to sign on collection.

Most practitioners ask parents to apply the first layer of cream before they arrive in the morning and will then encourage the children to apply it to themselves during the day (to promote independence), supervising each child depending on their age and stage of development.

There is no requirement to have a written sun cream policy. However, it is important to explain the provision’s sun cream policy to parents. Sun safety discussions with parents should cover –

  • Remembering sun cream takes at least 30 minutes to reach full effectiveness, explain to parents how you will manage application timings for outings and outside play
  • What you will do if parents refuse to supply their own sun cream – will you provide it and charge parents – if so, how much will it cost them?
  • Not all children can use all types of sun cream – how you will accommodate their individual health needs if you supply sun cream?
  • How will you support a child who doesn’t want you to apply sun cream – will you ring parents to come and do it or keep them inside?
  • What will you do if parents forget to bring their child’s cream in the morning?
  • Where will you store sun cream – for the house / garden and taking on outings?
  • If you ask parents to supply sun cream, how will you transport multiple bottles of cream on outings?
  • What will you do if a child throws his hat – repeatedly? How will you ensure he is safe in the sun? How will you teach him the importance of wearing a hat?
  • How often will you apply sun cream to children during the day – mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon or before the school run etc?
  • Discuss how you will protect children from cross contamination when applying sun cream. For example, will you wash hands between children to protect them from cross contamination or use a different pair of gloves for each child?
  • Do you keep children out of the sun during the hottest part of the day? How do you ensure they have plenty of outside play on hot days?
  • Do you use the weather as a learning opportunity? Weather apps or weather stations in the garden can provide useful information about the temperature outside and can be used alongside the children to teach them about sun safety.
  • Do you encourage children to drink more water during hot days? How do you ensure they keep drinking when they are engrossed in their games or playing in the garden?
  • If you do not have natural shade in the garden how do you provide it to keep children cooler?

In case of accidents - if a child’s skin is not covered by sun cream and a hat and burns you need to discuss your procedures with parents.  Burns can cause long-term damage including skin cancer in later life so accidental sun burn must be treated with care. As with all accidents, reporting procedures must be followed – parents should be asked to sign a record form and advised to seek medical advice for their child and reports should be made to Ofsted and insurance in the case of serious accidental burning. Completed accident records, when signed and dated by parents, should normally be retained in the child’s file until the child is 21 years 3 months old for insurance purposes.

In addition to regularly applying sun cream, you should ensure children are dressed appropriately for the hot weather. Hats or caps and thin clothes which cover delicate skin are essential – parents should also make sure their children are wearing suitable shoes which they can walk in comfortably and don’t hurt their feet.

It is a requirement of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to share information with parents: to support parents as they make a decision about which sun cream and hat to buy for their child, you might find it useful to provide them with a link to the Cancer Research Sun Smart website.

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