Sun Safe

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Sun Safety in the Recreational Community

A sun safety policy is important to protect children, youth and sport/recreation leaders from the potential dangers of too much sun exposure.

The evidence shows that policy and education programs in recreation settings can change sun safety behaviour – particularly “covering up” behaviour.

We know that children and youth spend a significant amount of time outdoors. In a survey conducted in 2006, more than 50% of the children surveyed spent at least 2 hours in the sun on a typical summer day (National Sun Survey Highlights Report July 2008). In that same survey, 20% of the children aged 6-12 years had experienced at least one sunburn during the summer prior to the survey.

Working with the Capital District Health Authority, Cancer Prevention Committee, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and Town of Windsor Recreation Programs, Sun Safe Nova Scotia developed Summer Sun Safety – A How To Guide for Recreation and Sport Programs. This guide presents the rationale for sun safety policy in the recreation and sport setting, shares the story of policy development from HRM and Town of Windsor and provides sample policies and tools to help program directors and leaders develop and implement an appropriate policy for their program.


Skin cancer rates have been increasing steadily in Canada over the past 30 years and Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of melanoma skin cancer in Canada. Overexposure to the sun is the primary environmental cause of skin cancer.

Recent research into the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of Canadians regarding sun safety has found that:

• 21% of Canadian adults try to get a tan from the sun.

• 49% of young women (ages 16-24) and 28% of young men actively try to get a tan from the sun, while seniors aged 65+ rarely do.

• Among adults, those aged 16-24 not only get the most sun exposure but are also the least likely to protect themselves from the sun.

• Compared to young children, older children (ages 6-12) not only spend more time in the sun but are also less likely to be protected from the sun.

• The risk of sunburn is highest in younger adults (ages 16-44) and older children (ages 6-12).

• Most adults get their worst sunburn while taking part in outdoor recreational activities.

• Over 50% of children also get their worst sunburn while watching or participating in outdoor recreational activities.
Reference: National Sun Survey Highlights Report, July 2008

Cancer Care Nova Scotia has established SunSafe Nova Scotia, a coalition of agencies and individuals working together to reduce the number of skin cancer diagnoses and deaths through prevention and early detection. Together, the SunSafe Nova Scotia members are able to learn from each other, share work and achievements and have a greater impact on the sun safety practices of Nova Scotians.

Tracy Burgess
Sun Safety Policy Implementation Facilitator
Recreation & Sport Sectors
SunSafe Nova Scotia

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