Swimmers learn sun safety skills

HAMPSTEAD — Cascade Lake invites swimmers and sliders alike to spend a few hours in its waters — in between re-applications of sunscreen, that is.

On Tuesday, visitors were reminded of the importance of sun safety and skin cancer prevention by the Fun in the Sun display on its lake deck, hosted by the Carroll County Health Department and the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County.

"Let me think of a hard question," said Victoria Barry, a community health improvement area specialist for the Partnership, as Cameron Gibson dripped by the table, hoping to answer correctly and win a prize from the table. "Do you know what 'UV' stands for when we talk about UV rays?"

Cameron, 10, scanned the display board for the answer before replying: "Ultraviolet?"

He grinned as he was awarded a color-changing cup for answering correctly, before returning to the water.

"That's one of the great things about doing outreach at places like Cascade Lake or a pool: It's a relaxed atmosphere. People have the time to come over and say hi," said Maggie Rauser, Safe Kids coordinator at the health department. "It's not that people don't know about the importance of sun safety. It's just not always in the front of their mind. This is a good reminder."

In 2013, an estimated 30,680 new skin cancer cases were diagnosed in Maryland alone, according to the American Cancer Society. And it's not just here: The Skin Cancer Foundation found that there have been more new skin cancer cases in the last 30 years than all other cancers combined.

The disease was identified as a target area for outreach by the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County, along with diabetes, heart disease and lack of exercise, said Barry, who heads the leadership team focused on chronic disease prevention and intervention.

Through Fun in the Sun and its partner program, Safer in the Shade, the Partnership and the health department hope to educate residents and improve the level of awareness. Fun in the Sun has existed since 2011 but this year expanded to other areas in the county in the hopes of growing the demographic it can reach, Rauser said.

"Did you put on sunscreen before you came today?" Barry asked a group of girls who approached the table. A mix of answers came — a yes, a no, a "not today."

"That's the thing. It's important for people of all ages to be reminded," Barry said later. "And here, it's such a hands-on, great place to do it. Sunscreen will wash off more quickly in the water and it probably wasn't people's first thought when they left the house. But it's critical. People of any age and demographic are susceptible."

After winning a prize from the table, the girls moved to the side of the deck then quickly put the gift — a small bottle of SPF 75 zinc sunscreen — to use.

If You Go

Additional Fun in the Sun dates will take place across the county, hosted by the Carroll County Health Department and the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County.

1-3 p.m. July 15, Manchester Lions Club Pool, 3347 Victory Street, Manchester

Noon-2 p.m. July 24, Four Seasons Sports Complex, 2710 Hampstead Mexico Road, Hampstead

10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Aug. 7, Cascade Lake, 3000 Syndersburg Road, Hampstead

Additional locations are being explored, according to Maggie Rauser, Safe Kids coordinator at the Carroll County Health Department.

Summer skin safety

If you're looking to protect your skin this summer, follow these tips from the American Cancer Society on skin cancer prevention.

• Seek shade or limit exposure to the sunlight, particularly during the peak sun hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.

• Protect your skin with clothing or lather on the sunscreen, 30 SPF or higher is recommended.

• Apply sunscreen properly — typically, every two hours, after swimming or sweating and before makeup or bug repellent.

• Wear a hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim to protect facial areas that are particularly vulnerable to the sun.

• Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps — consider sunless tanning lotions to achieve the desired look without the damaging rays.

Source: American Cancer Society, cancer.org

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