When you go out in the sun this summer, protect yourself. Whether you are taking a short walk to a friend's house, or playing on the beach, it's important to shield your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

If you know you will be out in the sun, apply sunscreen or sunblock half an hour before you go out. While you're out, put it on again about every 90 minutes. Ask your doctor what kind of sun protection cream would be best for your type of skin.

Test the lotion on a small patch of skin before you apply it all over; you may be allergic to some of the ingredients. You may have to try a few before you find one that works. Once you find a good sunscreen or sunblock, remember to use it on all the skin that isn't covered with clothes. That means your palms, the backs of your knees, the tops of your ears, the part in your hair -- everywhere. You may need help with some of the hard-to-reach spots. When you go out, be especially careful during the hours when the sun is strongest, between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.

Getting too much sun can cause certain kinds of cancer later in life. It's especially important to avoid getting a bad sunburn, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy recommends a booklet published by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Your family can order "For Every Child Under the Sun -- A Guide to Sensible Sun Protection" by writing to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Box 561, New York, N.Y. 10156. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope.