Every day is “Don’t Fry Day” when you’re a lifeguard, swim instructor, or caregiver at the pool or beach during the summer season. But the official Don’t Fry Day is the Friday before Memorial Day, designated as an annual event by The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to promote sun safety before the summer months begin. The purpose of this day is to bring attention to the importance of sun safety and steps to make a huge difference in limiting sun exposure and preventing skin cancer.
Know the Risks of Sunburn
A single blister-producing sunburn for a child or teenager doubles the chance of developing the deadly skin cancer, melanoma, in adulthood—the risk doubles for adults who have had five or more sunburns.
Fair-skinned people have a higher risk of sunburn and skin cancer, but research shows that melanomas can develop in people with darker skin, even though sun damage may not be as visible. While skin cancers are still less prevalent in people of color, research shows the prognosis is often worse because a lack of awareness can lead to delayed diagnoses. Increasing public awareness of skin cancer risks can save lives because the sooner skin cancers are caught and treated, the better the prognosis.
What is Sunburn?
Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin’s outermost layers in response to ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun. Sunburns can range from mild to blistering, with skin color varying from light pink to dark red, but every sunburn is a sign of injury to the skin.
The UV Index and Sun Safety
The UV (ultraviolet) Index measures the level of radiation produced by the sun at a given time. A high UV index score means unprotected skin will burn faster or more severely. Most weather apps and weather reports will discuss the current UV Index rating for your location. For lifeguards or swim coaches, alerting swimmers to the day’s UV index score can be a great way to start a conversation about sun safety. You could also share facts about ultraviolet radiation, such as:
“Did you know that 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate clouds?”
Small Steps to Take for Sun Safety
The theme of this year’s Don’t Fry Day is #SmallStepsForSunSafety. The small steps recommended by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency are sunscreen, shade, sunglasses, and protective clothing. If you work with children, the Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap Campaign can help you teach these small steps in a way that is fun to say and easy to remember:
“Slip on a Shirt, Slop on Sunscreen, Slap on a Hat, and Wrap on Sunglasses!”
Sunburn Treatment and Relief
What if you or someone in your care experiences a sunburn this summer? The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends moving sunburn victims out of the sun immediately, using cool water or compresses to cool the skin, and keeping the skin moist with a light moisturizer (not petroleum or oil-based, which can trap heat). Be sure to hydrate the sunburn victim with water and electrolytes (sports drinks) and seek medical attention if the victim has fever, chills, is woozy, disoriented, or has extensive blistering.
Where to Learn More About Sun Safety
You can access educational and promotional tools for Don’t Fry Day and learn more about sun safety in our online courses. Recommended online courses include: First Aid, Water Safety for Caregivers, and Basic & Advanced Babysitter Training. Enjoy the sun, but do it safely to prevent skin injuries and cancer.
Environmental Protection Agency
National Cancer Institute
National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention