Orlando Health to install free sunscreen dispensers at Seminole parks

Bicyclists, joggers, softball players or anyone else enjoying one of a half dozen Seminole County parks soon will be able to protect themselves from sunburn or skin cancer for free.

The Orlando Health Cancer Center will install and maintain a total of 15 dispensers that squirt doses of sunscreen lotion at the six recreational facilities, according to an agreement the County Commission approved with the health facility.

When a park visitor places his hands underneath a dispenser, the machine will automatically release a dollop of Bright Guard 30 SPF sunscreen. The machines should be up and running by April 1, hospital officials said.

“It’s a little bit of sunscreen, but it’s such a big thing against skin cancer,” said Jeff Caldwell, Seminole’s parks and recreation division manager.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer, with nearly 1 million cases detected in the U.S. each year. Florida has the second-highest rate of melanoma incidents in the nation, after California, with an average of 5,438 new cases every year, according to a 2015 National Institute for Health report, the most recent numbers available.

In Central Florida, Seminole County records an average of 105 new cases annually;, Orange County, 201; Lake, 118; and Osceola, 46, according to the report.

New recommendations released last week from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of preventive health experts, advised that fair-skinned teenagers and parents of fair-skinned children should receive counseling from their doctors about how to avoid ultraviolet radiation that can lead to skin cancer.

Similar to soap dispensers commonly seen in public restrooms, the sunscreen machines will be installed on poles outdoors at the following county parks: 

  • Seminole Softball Complex, 2200 North St., Altamonte Springs; two dispensers.
  • Sylvan Lake Park, 845 Lake Markham Road, Sanford; two dispensers.
  • Sanlando Park, 401 W. Highland St., Altamonte Springs; one dispenser.
  • Boombah Sports Complex, 3450 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford; six dispensers.
  • Red Bug Lake Park, 3600 Red Bug Lake Road, Casselberry; two dispensers.
  • Boombah Soldiers Creek Park, 2812 Osprey Trail, Longwood; two dispensers.

Orlando Health Inc. will be responsible — through a subcontractor — for installing, maintaining and keeping the dispensers filled every week, so there will be no cost to Seminole County, Caldwell said.

It will be Orlando Health’s second round of such installations in the region.

This year, the health-care organization also installed a total of 18 sunscreen dispensers at nine Orange County parks: Kelly Park in Apopka, Killarney Station on the West Orange Trail, Moss Park, Barnett Park, Cypress Grove Park, Downey Park, Dr. P. Phillips Community Park, Fort Gatlin Recreation Complex, all in Orlando, and George Bailey Park in Winter Garden.

“Sunscreen is a simple step we can all take to protect ourselves from skin cancer,” Brian Wetzel, chief operating officer for Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center, said in a written statement. “We’re very proud to partner with the parks and recreation departments at Orange County and Seminole County to make these sunscreen stations available to residents so everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors.”