Soaking up the sunshine: City of Amarillo installs sunscreen dispensers at city pools

Soaking up the sunshine: City of Amarillo installs sunscreen dispensers at city pools
New sunscreen dispenser and sign installed at City of Amarillo Southwest pool location; Source: KFDA
Workers check the pool before it gets ready to open to the public; Source: KFDA
Workers check the pool before it gets ready to open to the public; Source: KFDA
Water stays calm before the pool opens to the public; Source: KFDA
Water stays calm before the pool opens to the public; Source: KFDA
Lane dividers separate the deep end from the shallow end; Source: KFDA
Lane dividers separate the deep end from the shallow end; Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The City of Amarillo and the Harrington Cancer & Health Foundation is encouraging kids to wear sunscreen by installing dispensers at city pools.

Sunscreen is now one thing you will never have to worry about forgetting whenever you head out to the pool.

Through a new initiative, sunscreen dispensers and application signs can now be found at all outdoor city pools.

If you would like to find out where your nearest pool is and what its hours of operations are visit the City of Amarillo's website.

The dispensers hand out sunscreen complete with SPF 30, which is powerful enough to protect against strong UV rays.

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Kids are the most susceptible to damage from the sun.

While problems don't occur when young, it's when they grow up that problems can start to appear.

"What you do see is those skin cancers being manifested in their adult lives," said practice director for Texas Oncology Eric Palmer.

"We live in an area that has a very high UV index all summer long," says Director of Operations for Harrington Cancer & Health Foundation Ryan Parnell. "Depending on how high the UV index, you [could] burn in as quickly as ten minutes."

One of the easiest places to burn, is also one of the easiest to forget to protect.

"The two places we see the most sunburns are their ears, and their feet," said recreation supervisor for the City of Amarillo Shelley Gallagher.

Teaching kids to be smart and protect their skin when they're young can help prevent problems when they grow up.

"When you're 40, 50, 60, and you're going to the dermatologist and they're having to cut out skin cancer or you're having to have treatment for melanoma," said Parnell. "It could be a direct result of something you did in your teens or 20s."

It doesn't take much to create a problem.

"Just having one to three sunburns a year, can be significant in causing later skin cancer," said Palmer.

Parnell hopes the new dispensers remove the excuse of 'I forgot it at home.'

"We're trying to beat down every barrier to where they would not use sunscreen," said Parnell. "We want to make sure they put it on."

Sunscreen is even vitally important when enjoying any water source.

"I'm in the water up to here, but the sun reflects off the water up in to my face," said Palmer. "So it can actually intensify the sun."

Even when wearing sunscreen, covering yourself up and creating your own shade is important.

"Here in the Texas Panhandle, we're kind of flat and we don't have a lot of tree cover, so we really do have to create or own shade," said public communications director Jesse Patton. "Whether that means wearing a wide brim hat to cover your ears, neck and, or long sleeves like I am right now. But then it translates in to sunscreen because if we're in a bathing suit we gotta cover our skin because we gotta protect ourselves from the sun."

All city pools are ADA compliant, meaning anybody can access them during their hours of operation.

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