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UVR Protection: Shade Structures and Areas


  • UV protection,
  • Physical environment,
  • Community,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Healthcare facilities,
  • Workplace,

Shade structures and areas 

Using shade structures and areas can protect against overexposure from the sun while outdoors. 

Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun or from artificial sources (e.g., indoor tanning), can increase the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancers cases (with both melanoma and non-melanoma types combined) is thought to comprise approximately 33% of all cancers in Alberta.1 Taking measures to protect you and your family from the sun year-round will help to prevent the dangerous long-term effects of UVR exposure, such as skin cancer, as well as the short-term effects, such as a sunburn.2

Pincher Creek Wellness Committee identified reducing UVR exposure as an important community initiative. The committee decided to install a shade structure at a new spray park that had limited natural shade from trees or foliage.

Ways to get started

  • Install outdoor shade areas in locations where people gather and would be beneficial the community.3-9 (e.g. community playgrounds, baseball diamonds, outdoor fields and outdoor pools). Collaborate with interested community groups to identify potential common locations—consider using an audit tool (see resources section).
  • Partner with local businesses and schools to help design and build the shade structures.
  • Support the development of guidelines or policies that establish requirements or minimum availability of shade areas (e.g. tree planting programs and sheltered picnic areas). Municipalities will be key partners in this strategy.
  • Support the addition of built structures or natural shade to upcoming infrastructure and planning projects—work with the local municipality and planning departments.
  • Obtain (through purchase or donations) portable shade/UV tents, hand-held and cantilever umbrellas and make them available. Leverage partnering organizations such as businesses.
  • Encourage and support workplaces in doing Alberta’s Be Sunsible Program and using its resources. The Be Sunsible Shade Audit Tool, for example, help to assess the level of risk for harmful UVR exposure and potential for need for artificial shade (see resources section for a link to the program).
  • Consider partnering with workplaces whose employees are mostly outdoors and frequently exposed to UVR. Support them in identifying ways to increase sun safety among employees.
  • Post information on sun safety awareness near your shade structure.

For further action to promote UVR protection in your community, see

Multi-component community-wide interventions that promote UV awareness and protection in your community will have greater impact than implementing one-off strategies.

Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:

  1. What you expect to learn or change
  2. What you measure and report
  3. How to measure impact

What you expect to learn about shade structures and areas may include:

  • Learning that the strategy was implemented as planned
  • Increased number of shade structures
  • Increased use of shades
  • Increased UVR protection of outdoor workers


References- Shade Structures and Areas

  1. Alberta Health Services. Alberta’s Skin Cancer Prevention Framework; 2018. Available from:
  2. Healthier Together Alberta Health Services. Have fun in the sun safely toolkit; 2019.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sun safety tips for schools. Washington (DC): Department of Health and Human Services; 2016. Available from:
  4. Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. What works. Cancer prevention and control: skin cancer prevention. The Community Guide. Atlanta (GA): CDC; 2014. Available from:
  5. Glanz K, Saraiya M, Wechsler H. Guidelines for school programs to prevent skin cancer. Atlanta (GA): CDC; 2002. Available from:
  6. National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE). Skin cancer prevention. NICE Guideline. London: NICE; 2016. Available from:
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent skin cancer. Washington (DC): Department of Health and Human Services; 2014. Available from:
  8. World Health Organization (WHO). Sun protection and schools: how to make a difference. Geneva (SW): WHO; 2003. Available from:
  9. World Health Organization (WHO). Sun protection: an essential element of health-promoting schools. WHO information series on school health. Geneva (SW): WHO; 2002. Available from:
  10. National Guideline Clearinghouse. Prevention of skin cancer. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); 2013. Available from:
  11. Saraiya M, Glanz K, Briss PA, et al. Interventions to prevent skin cancer by reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation: a systematic review. AM J PREV MED. 2004;27(5):422-466. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2004.08.009. Available from:
  12. Community Preventive Services Task Force, CDC. Preventing skin cancer: interventions in outdoor recreational and tourism settings.