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Raising awareness of sun protection in outdoor recreation

Being active outdoors is important for our health and wellness, as is being adequately sun protected. Sunguarding Outdoors is a NEW campaign for outdoorsy people, groups, and clubs, to help keep everyone sun safe.(If you are more focused on competitive sport, please visit Sunguarding Sport campaign HERE)

Downloadable Toolkit

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause sunburn, skin and eye damage and skin cancer, which is all mainly preventable, with adequate sun protection.

Who is this campaign for?


If you enjoy being in the great outdoors, good sun protection habits should be part of your health & safety routines. Our guidelines will provide you with a better understanding of the facts, and how to mitigate the risks, preparing you for your next adventure, whilst keeping you, your family, and friends sun safe.


Outdoor recreational clubs, groups and organisations have a duty of care to provide and maintain a safe environment for participants, officials, and coaches and this includes sun protection. Our resources, including our downloadable toolkit provides posters, leaflets and digital materials will help you raise awareness at the right time and place.

Sun protection guidelines

The following guidelines have been segmented into 9 key areas, containing advice that is highly relevant within most aspects of outdoor recreation:

Protective clothing

Clothing should always be the first line of defence when it comes to sun protection. Discover how to cover up effectively when out in the great outdoors without compromising enjoyment.

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Sunscreen is an important aspect of sun protection when out all-day. Discover how much to use, when and where to apply and how to avoid a greasy grip when dealing with safety equipment etc.

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Although shade is not always available when active outdoors, it is important to get out of the sun, especially on hot days. Discover how and when to use existing shade and create other options.

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Extreme heat

When it gets very hot, vigorous outdoor activity can become uncomfortable and at worst, dangerous. Discover how and when to deal with extreme heat, keeping everyone safe.

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General sun sense

There are many ways you can incorporate better sun protection habits into our outdoor routines, keeping your skin and your health better protected. Discover our tips, and if they work for you, pass onto others!

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Heat related illness

The sun is wonderful, however too much of it can lead to issues such as heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Educate yourself on the facts to help avoid potential problems.

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Sunburn isn’t just unsightly, it can be dangerous, leading to long-lasting damage to the skin and an increase in the risk for skin cancer. It is however easy to avoid by being prepared and understanding the sun and your skin.

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Vitamin D

There are lots of conversations around Vitamin D and sun protection. The fact is that you need sun protection as much as you need vitamin D and you can have both, without skin damage or nutritional deficiency.

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Remember to check your skin

The better you know your skin the less likely it is you will miss any potential health issues in later life. Discover how, why and when to check and most importantly what to look out for!

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Our downloadable toolkit

To help you support our mission, we have created a toolkit of materials to raise awareness of sun protection,
where and when it matters. To get involved, download and use in the following ways:

Display posters on noticeboards in clubhouses

Distribute leaflets at events

Post images on your socials

Add the guidelines and activity-specific advice to your websites

…and then proudly use our supporter’s logo

You have our FULL permission!

Download Toolkit

Protective clothing

  • Always wear a hat. Your forehead, scalp and ears are vulnerable areas, so wear something with a legionnaire flap at the back or ideally a wide brim.
  • Caps and visors may not provide adequate sun protection to the lower face, ears and neck but can be used in combination with sunscreen.
  • Where possible, wear clothing that protects arms and legs. Garments with a tight weave offer the best protection.
  • When the day heats up, it is a natural impulse to remove clothing, which can mean exposing skin that has not been sun-protected, so remember to re-apply sunscreen to these areas.
  • Sun-protective clothing and hats should be included as kit for officials and volunteers.
  • Tops should be lightweight and made from tight weave material and have long sleeves..


  • Use an SPF30+ broad-spectrum product, paying special attention to your ears, nose and other areas which are prone to burning.
  • To avoid product running or sweating into eyes, use a stick and apply a non-greasy formulation 20 minutes before activity.
  • If using technical protective equipment, be sure to apply a non-greasy sunscreen formulation in advance to avoid the product compromising effectiveness.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or more often if you are prone to excessive perspiration or are around water.
  • Wraparound sunglasses are great for outdoor activity as they provide a more secure fit and offer the best all-round protection.
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen, which is a little more than you think, and take time to rub it in.
  • Perspiration and wiping off dirt etc. can remove even a ‘once a day’ product, so remember to re-apply it during the day.
  • Hands are highly exposed and vulnerable to the sun, so remember to reapply sunscreen after washing.
  • Most sunscreens have a three-year shelf life, but the more the bottle is opened and closed – specifically with dirty hands – the more likely contamination can enter the bottle and hasten degradation.


  • When possible, it is wise to seek shade, such as selecting a shady route or selecting a shady spot for lunch or rest.
  • If camping or spectating activity, temporary shade structures are a great way to stay sun safe.  Look at gazebos, sails, or sports umbrellas.
  • Not only does shade give you a reprieve from the heat, but it can also help to protect you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • As a rule, the more open sky one can see from under a shade structure, the higher one’s exposure to indirect UV rays.
  • Seeking shade plus using sunscreen or wearing sun-protective clothing is the best practice to limit sun damage.
  • Trees and awnings may provide shade when the sun is overhead, but less as it rises and sets, allowing UV rays to hit you from different angles.

Extreme heat (for group organisers)

Temperatures of 30°C and above are too hot for very physical activities, with risks of heatstroke and severe dehydration. Where possible, activity should be scheduled to minimize exposure to UV and extreme heat.

When it is not possible, the following measures can help minimise risks:

  • Activities are limited in duration and intensity.
  • The duration of the activity is reduced.
  • Activities start earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
  • Rest breaks and opportunities to seek shade, rehydrate and reapply sunscreen are increased.
  • Event officials are allowed to rotate out of the sun and into shade.
  • Activity is held at an alternative venue with more shade.
  • Officials lead by example by wearing sun-protective clothing and hats, applying sunscreen, and seeking shade whenever possible.

General sun sense

  • It’s easy to start activity in the early morning which then turns into a hot day and sunburn, get into the habit of applying sunscreen before you start any activity.
  • When preoccupied in activity, adding a timer on a phone or watch to re-apply sunscreen can work as a reminder.
  • Hydrate regularly by keeping a reusable bottle in your kit and always take enough fluid with you for your planned activity.
  • Keep a light, damp towel at hand to cool off, and protect the neck, but remember to re-apply sunscreen afterwards.
  • Remember that UV rays cannot be seen or felt, and that clouds provide little protection. When the UV index hits 3, use sun protection.
  • Watch out for surfaces such as sand or snow which reflect UV rays and increase your exposure and remember that UV rays travel through water, so emersion will not protect your skin.

Heat related illness

Sun protection isn’t just about sunburn, but also heatstroke and heat exhaustion, and as such the following advice will help identify and prevent problems:

    • Those suffering from heat stress will show general signs of discomfort (including those listed below for heat exhaustion).
    • These signs will worsen with physical activity or, if left untreated, can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
    • Heat exhaustion symptoms include irritability, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea, or hot, red and dry skin.
    • Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion or heat stress is left untreated, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning.
    • Sweating is an essential means of cooling and once this stops there is a risk of developing heatstroke.

The following steps to reduce body temperature should be taken at once:

    • Move the person to as cool a location as possible.
    • Sponge with cool, (not cold) water and, if available, place cold packs around the neck and in the armpits.
    • Place the person near a fan.
    • If the person shows signs of confusion or loses consciousness, place in the recovery position and follow the steps above.
    • In both cases, call for emergency medical assistance.


Sunburn should be avoided however, if affected, the following advice should help:

  • Sunburned skin must always be protected from further exposure to the sun. So, it’s better to cover up with clothing or take a break for a day.
  • If the skin blisters or symptoms such as fever and nausea are apparent, a GP should be consulted immediately. Not only may severe burns have occurred, but also sunstroke.
  • A skin-soothing cream should be applied to the affected areas to help cool and heal.
  • Regardless of the treatment, the affected skin needs to be cooled. PLEASE NOTE: Do not put ice directly on the skin (can lead to frostbite) but apply cold compresses instead.
  • Dehydrated skin can be helped by moisturising it from the inside, so drink plenty of fluids – preferably water.

Vitamin D

It is widely acknowledged that some exposure to sunlight is needed to maintain healthy reserves of vitamin D in the body, this is essential for the absorption of calcium. The question is, ‘How much?’

  • In general, 10 to 15 minutes exposure to the face and arms as a minimum; but always less than the amount of time needed for the skin to redden or burn.
  • Two or three times a week in the summer months is adequate.
  • Darker skin absorbs sunlight more slowly and can be exposed more frequently to ensure adequate absorption; but again, less time than it would take to burn.
  • Some vitamin D is still produced even when sunscreen is applied.


The vitamin D produced in the summer months keeps you healthy in the winter months when the UK sun is not strong enough to generate adequate vitamin D. For those at risk, diet and supplements should be considered.

Anyone who may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency due to complex health issues or complications arising from medication should be advised to consult their GP.

Remember to skin check

Getting to know your skin by regularly checking it for signs of skin cancer or changes is a great habit to get into. Ideally you should carry out examinations once a month as part of your health and wellbeing routines.  To find out how to check yourself and what to look out for visit HERE.

Alternatively, schedule a regular professional check-up, to follow your skin’s progress and catch anything out-of-the-ordinary in good time. If you do spot something that concerns, visit your GP immediately.

Outdor activity specific advice

We have worked with the UK’s leading outdoor organisations to create tips and advice that are relevant to specific outdoor activities. Select your activity below and adopt a few new habits into your summer routines.


Our campaigns are supported by:

Please note:

Certain health conditions and medications mean some people are more sensitive to UV radiation and need to always use sun protection, regardless of the UV levels.

Certain allergies mean some people are more sensitive to sun protection products. Anyone affected should check with their GP.


The advice was written by the Melanoma Fund and certified as being accurate and up to date by Professor Brian Diffey and Dr Elizabeth Blakeway Manning.

For more information contact the Sunguarding team:


M: +44(0)7989 551046


This information is general in nature and does not constitute medical advice from your GP or health professional. While all reasonable attempts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, the Melanoma Fund and associated parties cannot accept responsibility for loss, injury, claim, or damage resulting from the use or application of this information.

This information is based on current available evidence at the time of review. It can be photocopied for distribution.

Updated: 27/04/2023