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Pool provides free sunscreen

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Lotion part of skin cancer prevention program

By Lisa King

For the rest of the summer, visitors to the outdoor pool at Clear Creek Park will be treated to free sunscreen.

The lotion, located at the entrance of the pool in a pump dispenser, is SPF 30, said Renee Blair, North Central District Public Health Director.

"At the pool, we have two stations with a gallon container dispensed with a pump, and they can put it on while they're there," she said.

Blair said the free lotion as well as an additional umbrella is part of the health department's campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer.

"We're doing a special project at the pool," she said. "We're giving out pamphlets; we've got posters up, and we've been working with the lifeguards at the pool to let people know that if you get sunburned as a kid, what the after-effect is down the road as an adult.

"We're just trying to do an awareness program about that because we felt it was the best way to get the information out."

T.J. Kelly, a lifeguard at the pool, said many people have been taking advantage of the free sunscreen.

"They've been putting it on and using a lot of it," he said. "I think it's good that we have it here because a lot of people probably wouldn't have any otherwise."

Lifeguard Justina Ellis agreed.

"Both of the containers are already half empty," she said.

The lotion, including some individual bottles of Water Babies, were funded by the health department at a cost $2,586, as was the new umbrella, which cost $3,539, Blair said.

"We had some reserve, and we wanted to look at what we could do with it to best serve the community," she said. "We were already looking at doing a program on skin cancer prevention, so what better way to emphasize that than a sun safety project?"

The North Central Public Health District also serves Henry, Spencer and Trimble counties, and is furnishing pools at the latter two counties with free sunscreen as well, Blair said.

Local aquatic director Jeramiah Heath said that since the health department supplied the sunscreen two weeks ago, pool-goers have expressed delight in seeing it there.

"A lot of people are using it and are glad to see we are concerned about their health," he said.

Blair said in Shelby County, the health department sees a fair number of people who come in worried about skin cancer.

"We treat a lot of odd lesions and a lot of questionable moles," she said.

Blair has witnessed personally how tragic skin cancer can be.

"I had a dear friend who had skin cancer when she was 43, and she is no longer with us," she said. "She had it on her back and it metastasized. She had surgery and went through Chemo, but it was a rare form of skin cancer that was very fast moving."

The health department's brochure reminds people that American Cancer Society urges people to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and to use at least a palm-full for an adult.

Also, ultraviolet rays can easily go through clothing, such as a white cotton T-shirt, especially if it's wet. Also, remember that sunscreens that are labeled "water-resistance" should be re-applied because they may only last about 40 minutes or so.

Blair encourages people to visit the health department's Web site to learn more, at www.ncdhd.com, or call 633-1243 if they have questions.