By JEFF MEYERS
---- — CADYVILLE — The North Country is finally enjoying some sunshine and warm temperatures, so it’s a good time to remind residents to take precautions whenever exposed to the sun.
The Clinton County Health Department and the Town of Plattsburgh have teamed up to emphasize the importance of using sunscreen by distributing free samples of the sun-blocking agent at Cadyville Beach.
“It’s a way for us to promote burn safety in regards to the sun,” said Maryann Barto, public-health educator for the Health Department.
The pilot program is being funding by the Health Department’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program and may be expanded to other public facilities if proven successful this summer, Barto added.
The packets include a bottle of SPF 30 sunscreen, aloe vera to sooth sunburned skin, hand sanitizer and lip balm.
“If you get sunburned, you’re exposing yourself to a variety of different issues, especially the potential for skin cancer and skin poisoning,” Barto said.
“There are also immediate problems such as dehydration.”
Sunscreens help block or reduce dangerous ultraviolet rays from the sun. The higher the SPF factor, the more protection sunscreen provides, though SPF refers specifically to UV-B rays, which cause the skin to burn.
Sunscreens that offer “full spectrum protection” will also protect against UV-A rays, which can cause cancer and premature aging.
“We’re happy to be working with the Health Department in providing this kind of service,” said Melanie Defayette, recreation director for the Town of Plattsburgh.
“This is a small neighborhood beach that serves a lot of regulars. This (program) is a great way to reach out to the public.”
The beach, located on the Saranac River just west of the hamlet of Cadyville, serves many area families and is also host to town-sponsored swimming lessons.
“It’s a really nice place for families to come to, but we want to promote sun protection while they’re here,” Defayette said.
Chloe Lemza has been a lifeguard for the Town of Plattsburgh for the last seven years and says people seem to be very receptive of the sunscreen program this summer.
“The free samples are perfect for little kids,” she said. “A lot of these kids are here every day, and they really need the protection (from the sun).”
Lemza believes most parents are making sure their children have sunscreen and are also reapplying the product every couple of hours.
“Families are really good about using sunscreen,” she said, though she reminded parents who are sending their children to the beach for swimming lessons to make sure the kids bring sunscreen they can reapply.
Lemza makes sure she practices what she preaches.
“I put on sunscreen the second I get here,” said Lemza, an exercise-science and mental-health major at the University of Buffalo. “Even on cloudy days, I’ll wear sunscreen.”
Lemza uses SPF 30 for her arms and legs and SPF 45 for her hands and face.
The Health Neighborhoods Program has been in service for county residents for more than two decades and is designed to help improve the personal health, safety and environmental living conditions of residents of the county.
“We go out to the homes and do health and safety inspections for the residents,” Barto said.
Healthy Neighborhoods staff will discuss fire safety, lead in the home, indoor air quality and conditions that may promote asthma, she added.
The program targets specific towns, where staff will go door to door to ask residents if they would like to participate in the free program.
Staff are currently working in the Ellenburg area but will also go to individual homes across the county if people ask for assistance.
Based on the outcome of the survey and program eligibility, residents may receive a variety of free safety products, including smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors; child-safety products, such as cabinet local and safety gates; and asthma safety materials, such as mattress and pillow covers.
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For more information on the Healthy Neighborhoods Program or to set up an appointment with a Healthy Neighborhoods educator, contact the Clinton County Health Department at 565-4870.