Live, work or play in Old Orchard Beach during the summer? Check out – and use – the sunscreen dispensers, placed at various locations around town, proponents urge. Courtesy Photo

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — National “Don’t Fry Day” has come and gone, but people in Old Orchard Beach are urging residents and visitors alike to take advantage of sunscreen dispensers placed around town in an effort to prevent skin cancer and other health issues brought on by the sun.

The town is working with Impact Melanoma, a nonprofit providing education, prevention, and support for the most serious form of skin cancer, and the Maine Cancer Foundation to educate the public about skin cancers.

One way they’re doing that is placing sunscreen dispensers in various locations around the community — and people are invited to slather it on, to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.

This year, sunscreen dispensers have been installed at the Chamber of Commerce, Palace Playland, Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works Department, Recreation Department, Town Hall and at the wastewater facility, said the town’s communications director, Fran Beaulieu. As well, she said, a portable dispenser will be placed in various locations through the summer and fall.

“As a beachfront community, the summer season is our busiest time for staff and visitors,” said Beaulieu. “The town wants to be sure that not only our staff but everyone is safe while they are with us. When Kim McLaughlin, the town clerk, brought this sunscreen dispenser program to our attention, there was no doubt that we wanted to partner with Impact Melanoma. To us safety isn’t just a word, it’s a practice.”

“We’re very appreciative of this ongoing relationship with Old Orchard Beach and Maine Cancer Foundation,” said IMPACT Melanoma Executive Director Deb Girard. “We’ve made some really great progress within this community and have helped to spread awareness of the importance of proper skin safety throughout the great state of Maine. Together we’re saving lives and making a significant IMPACT that is creating a beneficial ripple effect.”

“Each town facility has a dispenser to remind staff that sun safety is important and we urge them to slather the sunscreen before heading out the door,” said Beaulieu. “Cancer has touched everyone in some way, and skin cancer is the most common type. It takes a few minutes to provide hours of protection for our skin.”

Data has shown that skin cancer rates are growing, according to a news release issued by the town of Old Orchard Beach, which notes that outdoor workers and  others who spend time outdoors are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Regular use of sunscreen can reduce the risk of melanoma by up to 80 percent, the agency stated.

According to the news release, a study of sunscreen usage in Maine showed that 44 percent of the 385 participants surveyed don’t worry about getting a sunburn and that sunscreen use is lower in all seasons in Maine as compared to national usage.

Maine Cancer Foundation’s grant that provided the sunscreen dispensers was originally offered as part of their Challenge Cancer 2020 initiative and carried over to 2021.

“Ninety-five percent of skin cancers can be prevented,” said Maine Cancer Foundation Executive Director Cheryl Tucker, “and this partnership provides the perfect opportunity to protect outdoor workers, beach goers, and visitors, and help reduce the risk of cancer.”