RI becomes first in nation to offer free sunscreen at beaches, parks

South County

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Sunscreen dispensers are being rolled out at Rhode Island’s state beaches and parks, to distribute complimentary sunscreen to visitors for the 2019 summer season.

The sunscreen distribution program was kicked off Monday morning at Narragansett’s Scarborough Beach with an announcement from Sen. Jack Reed, the Department of Environmental Management’s director Janet Coit and the Rhode Island Department of Health, which is partnering with a sunscreen company called Raw Elements, founded by a former Narragansett Beach lifeguard.

The company installed sunscreen dispensers first at Narragansett Town Beach in 2017, and this year the dispensers are being installed at all state beaches and most state parks.

Even with providing sunscreen for free at beaches, Reed and skin care experts on hand said it’s equally important to get screened for skin cancers as well. To that end, there will be free skin checks at beaches statewide throughout the summer.

“We have to raise awareness and make sure people follow through,” Reed said. “Having a dispenser here is an important step… and now let’s keep publicizing it, let’s make it routine.” He said he envisions that 10 years from now, children would go to the sunscreen dispenser automatically, out of habit, to grab a dose before going into the water, “just like they automatically put their seat belt on before you start the car.”

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