PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (WFLX) - Memorial Day marks the official start to the summer season, and that has some in our area working overtime to get a 'sun safe' message out to the public.
May is Melanoma Month. Your kids probably know that already because the Melanoma Foundation has been inside classrooms -- preaching the dangers of sun worshipping to students for the last month.
As the school year winds down, the Melanoma Foundation knows tweens and teens are getting ready to take in the sun.
So there is this reminder. "Eightly percent of exposure is before the age of 20, so skin cancer is usually because of exposure as a child," said Pediatric Dermatologist Dr. Manju George.
Dr. George practices in Palm Beach Gardens and says teaching kids sun safe habits early is key. "It's really important to protect ourselves because skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers."
"Does anyone know what the largest organ is in your body?" asked Melanoma Foundation Director Lisa Richmond asked a group of students.
"Skin," they respond.
It's the reason, in these last few weeks of school, Richman has been infiltrating classrooms sharing a simple message. "Summer is coming, so we're encouraging them to avoid going into indoor tanning salons," said Richmond. "And to make sure they don't go out and do rediculous things to get tanned."
She's had kids lining up, stepping into her skin damage detection booth while a team from "Students Against Melanoma" talk about simple ways to protect yourself from the sun's powerful rays.
The message resonated with 13-year-old Sienna Young. "Some of my family members have had skin cancer, and I come from a long line of red heads, so I know I'm higher risk."
Dr. George says that's the best you can hope for -- raising awareness because stopping the damage before it happens is your child's best line of defense. "Melanoma makes up 73 percent of skin cancer and one person dies every hour due to melanoma, so education is really important to protect from and it is something we can prevent."
Here are a few sun safe tips:
Don't let kids outside without sunscreen of SPF 30 or above, and include lip balm in that equation.
Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. And 4 p.m.
Keep babies 6 months or younger out of sun
Teach kids daily sun block application - especially here in Florida
Get your kids hats and sunglasses because you can get melanoma in the eye
Dr. George is a big fan of sun safe clothing -- long sleeves on your swim wear.