Lifeguards, swim instructors teach sun safety, too

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OLATHE, Kan. — Some lifeguards and swim instructors in Kansas are adding a different safety message, and their young, impressionable students are soaking it in.

At Black Bob Bay in Olathe, many moms have their kids smearing on sunscreen, but to really let the importance sink in, it’s good to have a lifeguard teaching you, too.

“Can you guys practice with me? Make sure you put it on your face,” said Payton Dockery, a lifeguard with Olathe Parks and Recreation, to a group of kids.

The little lesson is part of Pool Cool, a program of the MIdwest Cancer Alliance and the Kansas Cancer Partnership. This summer, it’s reached 50 pools. First, interns with the alliance teach sun safety to lifeguards and swim instructors.

“I’ve been sunburnt pretty bad a couple of times and yea, it’s not fun,” said Dockery.

Then they pass along their knowledge to the kids in lessons that are about five minutes long. The coordinator said it’s never too early to develop good sun habits.

“It’s proven that you get about 80 percent of your sun exposure before 18,” said Ashley Adorante.

And just one blister-causing sunburn during childhood doubles the chance of eventually developing melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.

Four-year-old Owen Fraser said he’s had a slight sunburn.

“We don’t want to have it happen again. Never again,” said Owen.

Two-year-old Everly Berger said, “I wear guh cream.”

So even before some little ones can pronounce sunscreen, they may be in the habit of wearing it.

Just in case they forget, there’s a tub of sunscreen for each pool that participates in Pool Cool. The kids learn shades matter, too.

“These are regular, normal glasses and they transform into uh, real sunglasses,” said Owen.

And don’t forget that hat.

“Howdy, partner!” said one boy as he put on his cowboy hat.

Now that’s how you’re pool cool.

The Centers for Disease Control recently recognized the Kansas program as a “best practice” for cancer prevention.



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