Summer in Bermuda is a wonderful. The water is glistening, the sand is sparkling, and the sun – the sun is beaming! This, however, is not always as great as it sounds. Over exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays and intense heat can do a lot of damage to our skin, so being sun safe is a major priority for keeping the good times rolling.
Azuree Williams is the Event and Programme Manager for the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre (BCHC), and she is very serious about promoting fun in the sun, the safe way!
Mrs Williams tirelessly espouses the importance of, “being SunSmart by Practicing the 5 S’s [five esses]: slipping on protective clothing, slopping on a mineral-based sunscreen (SPF 30 to 35), slapping on a broad-brimmed hat, seeking shade between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm, and sliding on sunglasses. This applies when you’re in the sun for long periods of more than 15-20mins.”
Why is Mrs Williams so passionate about sun safety? Because she’s serious about fighting cancer. “Skin cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer globally, and is most common in young adults. Five or more blistering sunburns can double one’s chances for skin cancer.”
The post millennial sun has gotten more intense than ever. When I grew up, we would play outside all day – I’d get my annual ‘summer coat’ of ‘paint’ sometime in late May. Normal folks would call that a sunburn, but I just peeled it off, and settled into my more tanned existence for the summer – it wasn’t even something to think twice about. That … was probably dangerous.
Being mindful of the sun and its tendency to burn human skin is more important now than ever, because we’ve evolved into beings who know that the best defense against cancer, is prevention. “Skin cancer is actually the most preventable cancer, because of the five prevention measures mentioned previously, as the 5 S’s.” Mrs Williams advises.
So, knowing what we know now, we can’t really just push our kids out into the searing Bermuda sun without making sure they are protected from its potentially deleterious effects. But the sun is everywhere! How can we protect our kids from something that is everywhere?! Mrs Williams breaks it down:
“It’s quite simple, by remembering the 5 S’s, and ensuring their summer camps of choice are SunSmart accredited through Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre’s SunSmart Accreditation programme.”
That’s right; the BCHC has a full SunSmart accreditation programme, and all local camps, schools, or childcare facilities should be actively seeking accreditation by now. The Centre also provides several other educational seminars and sessions for various school levels, educators, caregivers, and parents alike.
“We offer free SunSmart presentations: Protecting the Skin You’re In for middle school, senior school, community, and corporate groups; and fun interactive presentations for preschoolers and primary schoolers. Additionally, free SunSmart accreditation training registration is open, and closes June 16. For more information on all that the SunSmart programme has on offer, please visit www.chc.bm.”
To be honest, I still lean on my ‘summer coat’ ritual to protect me from the sun – I don’t tend to burn again after the first time – but that’s a very bad idea. Knowing what we know now – and loving fun in the sun like we do – keeping our kids safe while they revel in the Bermuda sun is as high a priority as there can be on a lazy summer day by the water.
Heed the warnings, use the sunscreen, carry a cover (whether a full gazebo, or a simple umbrella) – protect yourself, and protect your family!