Pennsylvania Expands Free Sunscreen Program at State Parks Ahead of Memorial Day

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HARRISBURG, PA — With National Sunscreen Day on May 27, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has announced an expansion of its free sunscreen program for visitors at state park beaches and swimming pools. This initiative aims to protect Pennsylvanians from harmful ultraviolet rays as they enjoy the outdoors.

Governor Josh Shapiro recently unveiled the Commonwealth’s new tourism brand, “Pennsylvania: The Great American Getaway,” positioning the state’s park system as premier destinations for weekend trips. To promote this new brand, the Shapiro family embarked on a week-long RV tour ahead of Memorial Day weekend, covering more than 50 stops in 14 counties.

“Thousands of visitors will spend time at state parks this Memorial Day weekend, and it is important to remember that protection from potentially harmful ultraviolet rays is key when spending extended time outdoors,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Thanks to the Department of Health and Impact Melanoma for their continued support and expansion of this important program.”

Experts recommend daily application of sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to help prevent skin cancer. Health officials report that one in 40 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime, while more than 8,500 Americans receive a skin cancer diagnosis each day.

Under the expanded program, pole-mounted, battery-operated dispensers will provide SPF 30+ sunscreen at 52 state parks. Since its inception in 2017, the program started with just two parks—Codorus and Pine Grove Furnace—and now aims to reach an estimated 3 million visitors this season.

Public lands are a pivotal part of the Great American Getaway RV Tour, including visits to state parks, state forests, national forests, and trails. These parks offer diverse summer activities like swimming, boating, camping, and hiking. Pets are also welcome in designated areas, such as day-use zones, specific campgrounds, cabins, camping cottages, and yurts.

State Parks Director John Hallas emphasized the expected influx of visitors this summer. “We expect to see millions of visitors at state parks this summer, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free sunscreen while enjoying our beautiful state parks,” he said.

The costs of the sunscreen dispensers are covered by a cancer prevention fund from the Department of Health, further underlining the state’s commitment to public health and safety.

This expansion highlights the importance of sun safety and reflects broader efforts to enhance visitor experiences at Pennsylvania’s state parks. By making sunscreen readily available, the state hopes to reduce the risk of skin cancer and promote healthier outdoor habits for all residents and visitors.

In summary, Pennsylvania’s initiative to provide free sunscreen at state parks is a critical step in public health. As families flock to the parks this summer, this program will help ensure that everyone can enjoy the outdoors safely.

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