HOUSTON (May 24, 2024)

Many of us will spend a significant amount of time in the sun and in the water over the next few months. Dr. Megan Mont, a family medicine physician with Memorial Hermann Medical Group, offers some tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from serious illness and tragedy.


  • Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells.
  • You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter.
  • Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when you’re in the shade.
  • Put on broad spectrum of sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 30 or higher at least 15-30 minutes before you go outside. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all exposed skin.
  • Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor(SPF), which is a number that rates how well they block UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Sunscreen wears off. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than 3 years. Its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
  • Sunscreen is NOT recommended for babies who are 6 months old or younger. The FDA recommends keeping infants out of the sun during midday and using protective clothing if they are in the sun.

Water Safety

  • Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old.
  • Drowning happens in seconds and is often silent.
  • Drowning can happen to anyone, any time there is access to water.
  • Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning. Children who have had swimming lessons still need close and constant supervision when in or around water.
  • Construct and use a four-sided fence that fully encloses the pool and separates it from the house, with self-closing, self-latching gate. Also, remove all toys from the pool area that might attract children to the pool.
  • Designate a responsible adult to supervise closely and constantly when children are in or near water (including bathtubs). You can assign a specific adult to supervise each child when they have access to water. 
  • Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like reading, using the phone, and consuming alcohol or drugs, because drowning happens quickly and quietly.
  • After swim time is over, shut and lock doors that give access to water. Be proactive and learn about any risks when visiting another home or unfamiliar location.
  • Life jackets reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities. Life jackets should be used by children for all activities while in and around natural water. 
  • Learn CPR. CPR skills could save someone’s life in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive.
  • Lakes, rivers, and oceans have hidden hazards such as dangerous currents or waves, rocks or vegetation, and limited visibility.
  • Always swim with a buddy. Choose swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.

Taking a few precautions this summer when it comes sunburn and water safety will give you a better chance at an enjoyable summer with those you love.