Being active outdoors is important for our health and wellness, as is being adequately sun protected. Sunguarding Sport is a NEW campaign for individuals, groups, and clubs, to help keep everyone sun safe.

Downloadable Toolkit

Raising awareness of sun protection in sport and outdoor recreation

Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause sunburn, skin and eye damage and skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the UK. The good news is that this is all mainly preventable, with adequate sun protection.

Sport and outdoor recreational clubs, groups and organisations have a duty of care to provide and maintain a safe environment for participants, officials, coaches, and spectators, and this includes sun protection.

Our resources will ensure that everyone is made fully aware of how and why to sun protect, to understand the risks, and build good habits.

Sun protection & safety guidelines

The following guidelines have been segmented into 9 key areas, containing advice that is highly relevant within sport and 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 playing sport or enjoying the great outdoors without compromising your performance.

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Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an important aspect of sun protection, especially in sport where clothing can be scant. Discover how much to use, when and where to apply and how to avoid the dreaded greasy grip!

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Shade

Many sporting venues or locations have little or no shade, however 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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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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Extreme heat

When it gets very hot, sport and 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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Sunburn

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.

Read More

Remember to skin check

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!

Skincheck

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 sport-specific advice to your websites

…and then proudly use our supporter’s logo

You have our FULL permission!

Download Toolkit

Sport specific advice

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

Supported by:

Sun time

  • It is easy to plan a 10-minute training session, which then turns into a couple of hours – and sunburn – so get into the habit of applying sunscreen before you start an activity.
  • Sun protection is recommended from March until October, with the early days of spring a prime time for sunburn.
  • The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can’t be seen or felt. Whatever the weather, it’s important for people of all skin types to use sun protection whenever the UV index is 3 or above.
  • UV rays penetrate cloud and haze. The weather can also fluctuate and catch you out, so always be sun prepared for outdoor activity.

Sunscreen

  • Use an SPF30+ broad-spectrum product, paying special attention to your ears, nose and other areas which are prone to burning.
  • If your grip is important, use a sunscreen applicator or keep a small towel or alcohol wipe handy, as these are good ways to avoid greasy hands.
  • To avoid product running or sweating into eyes, apply a non-greasy formulation 20 minutes before any 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 sport 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 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, the more likely contamination can enter the bottle and hasten degradation.

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; ideally, choose garments with a tight weave as these 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 re-apply sunscreen to these areas.
  • Sun-protective clothing and hats should be included as part of on and off-field kit for officials and volunteers.
  • Tops should be lightweight and made from tight weave material and have long sleeves.
  • Where sports kit does not provide adequate sun protection, participants should be reminded to apply SPF30+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to all exposed skin and wear clothing whilst not participating.

Shade

  • When not actively playing, between individual events or whilst spectating, participants should seek shade.
  • Where there is insufficient natural or built shade, temporary shade structures should be provided, or participants are notified to bring their own e.g., gazebos or umbrellas.
  • Shade from buildings, trees and other structures can be used where possible (e.g., for player interchange, marshalling areas, spectator areas), but be aware that the sun moves!
  • Ensure marshalling, interchange and presentation ceremony areas are protected by shade.
  • Where shade is not possible, participants and officials should regularly rotate to cooler, shaded areas.
  • 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 general 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 cancer-inducing 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 organisers)

Temperatures of 30°C and above are too hot for very physical activities, with risks of heatstroke and severe dehydration. Where possible, activities should be scheduled to minimize exposure to UV and extreme heat.
When it is not possible, the following measures can help minimise risks:

  • Warm-up 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.
  • Officials are allowed to rotate out of the sun and into shade.
  • Player interchange and substitution is used more frequently than usual.
  • Activity is held at an alternative venue with more shade.
  • Officials and coaches lead by example by wearing sun-protective clothing and hats, applying sunscreen, and seeking shade whenever possible.

General sun sense

  • It’s easy to plan a 10-minute training session, which then turns into a couple of hours – and sunburn – so get into the habit of applying sunscreen before you start an activity.
  • When preoccupied in activity, adding a timer on a phone or watch to re-apply sunscreen can work as a reminder.
  • Drink often and preferably water as this is the best way to hydrate. Keep a reusable bottle topped up and at hand.
  • Keep a light, damp towel at hand to cool off, and protect the neck, but remember to re-apply sunscreen afterwards.
  • Whilst waiting around, if possible, seek shade, or use the time to reapply sunscreen.
  • The UV Index scale is a great tool to tell you how quickly sunburn can occur. When the UV index hits 3, use sun protection and watch out for surfaces such as sand or snow which reflect UV rays and increase your exposure.

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

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.

Remember:

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.

Protecting children

The Melanoma Fund created the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code in 2014, targeting primary aged children.

For further details on how to sun protect children, and how individuals and groups can get Sun Protection Accredited click below:

CLICK HERE

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.


Authors:

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 Sport team:

E: info@melanoma-fund.co.uk

M: +44(0)7989 551046


Disclaimer

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: 02/03/2022