Cool Pools, Waterfront & Shade Structures

By Lee Ragon

Was it baby oil and mentholated or olive oil? I can't remember, but I do recollect that we slathered our bodies with all these different types of greasy remedies in hopes of obtaining the most glorious and radiant of suntans.


I live in Colorado where the sun shines more than 300 days a year and so many of its residents yearn to be outdoors. Add to this the hazards of being a mile-plus high in altitude, with thinner air and increased ozone levels.

Skin and eye protection have always seemed to be in the back of everyone's mind when it comes to year-round sports. Oh, but did that raccoon look ever turns heads, letting everyone know that you had been on those beautiful, white, glistening and sun-drenched slopes.

Over the years more people have been picking up on the fact that while being out of doors and having fun, there is a price to pay if you do not use good and adequate sun protection.

Karen Glanz, Ph.D., formerly of the Cancer Research Center, University of Hawaii and presently at Emory University, Atlanta, says comprehensive public education about sun-safety is definitely needed.

Dr. Glanz says, "Skin cancer is the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States, with one million new cases diagnosed each year. It is widely known that protection from the sun's rays could prevent about 90 percent of all skin cancer cases."

She also says that youth are the most at risk for overexposure and have the highest rates of disease due to overexposure before the age of 18. Protection includes covering up, seeking shade, using sunscreen properly, and avoiding staying outside too long during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

More than two years ago, the Pool Cool Project began, formerly conducted by the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and presently located at Emory University, in conjunction with the National Recreation and Park Association, the University of North Carolina, with a grant from the National Cancer Research Institute.

The Pool Cool Project was aimed at outdoor swimming pools nationally. The program was to last three summers, with the intention of educating five to ten year olds and their parents about the hazards and dangers of over-exposure to the sun.

Tom Elliott, Pool Cool Project Coordinator, immediately outlined the Pool Cool goals and aims. Of major importance was to teach young children and their parents about the importance of sun protection, and reduce and avoid sunburns for lifeguards and pool goers by having all lifeguards and pool goers use sun protection every day and improve environmental and structural supports, such as shade structures.

We learned about the latest skin cancer statistics, and about sun protection basics, such as using a sunscreen factor (SPF) of 15 or more, sunglasses, skin guards and hats, plus the importance of plenty of shade.

Pool managers, waterfront directors, lifeguards and counselors also play a major role in this project. Lifeguards and counselors can be a key to making safety changes at a pool, because children look up to them as role models in their use of sunscreen, the protective clothing that they wear and especially the short messages that the counselor conveys about sunscreen safety.

Camp directors are also essential in promoting a continued and daily awareness by displaying daily radiation numbers, displaying sun safety signs, promoting free sunscreen if possible and procuring more shade structures.

Our pool managers are anxious to hear parents and guardians ask friends, "Do you have your sunscreen on? Where is your hat? Got your sunglasses?"

Denver is preparing for our second season of trying to educate outdoor and swim participants to be sun-safe. This knowledge is key to a healthy and safe society. The Denver Parks and Recreation/Aquatics in conjunction with the Pool Cool Project are helping to build awareness for its citizens.

For more information about the Pool Cool Project, go to