The cumulative effects of excessive sun exposure, especially sunburn in young children, can produce skin cancer in later years. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, over 60,000 Canadians develop skin cancer annually...but the good news is that skin cancer is almost totally preventable.

The Canada Safety Council, in partnership with Active Living--Go for Green! and other partners, developed the Canada Sun Guide to help Canadians combine sun safety with outdoor activities. Year-round, outdoor physical activity can be healthy, fun and safe if you follow the four Canada Sun Guide basics.

Canada Sun Guide

Minimize Sun Exposure

  • Schedule outdoor physical activities when UV rays are at their weakest - before 11:00 AM and after 4:00 PM, especially between the months of April and October
  • Always keep children under the age of one out of the sun
  • Remember that skin doesn't have to be hot to burn, so don't be fooled by cloudy or overcast weather
  • Water, snow, sand and concrete can reflect and increase the sun's burning rays.

Seek and Create Shade

  • Seek natural shade from trees and buildings
  • Use shade umbrellas, or create other forms of shade if natural shade is not possible
  • Keep playpens, strollers and carriages in shaded areas.

Cover Up

  • Eighty percent of skin cancers occur above the neck.
  • Cover children's heads, necks and ears with a broad brimmed hat when outdoors
  • Protect arms and legs with tightly woven, loose fitting, cotton clothing
  • Children should wear a T-shirt over their bathing suit, and long shorts instead of short shorts
  • Wear UVA/UVB protective sunglasses--children can wear them too.

Use Sunscreen

  • Have children use a broad spectrum sunscreen (protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more.
  • Apply sunscreen generously before all outdoor physical activities such as swimming, skateboarding, biking or even walking.
  • Remember to apply at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply often, as perspiration will reduce the effectiveness.

The UV Index 

The UV Index is a measure of the strength of the sun's burning ultraviolet rays. The higher the number, the stronger the sun. The daily UV Index forecast is a prediction of the maximum (early afternoon) UV Index for the day. 


Sunblocks are opaque creams which create a physical barrier, blocking or reflecting UV radiation. These blockers can be applied to particularly sensitive areas, such as the nose or tops of ears, for additional UV protection.

Information provided by the Canada Safety Council.