Skiers at the Mount Wachusett ski area in Massachusetts may be surprised to find a bright yellow sunscreen dispenser on the mountain. The dispenser is part of an effort by The Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE) to get people to use sunscreen by providing it in locations where people need it most — on the slopes, in parks, and on the beach.

The reflection of the sun on the snow is very powerful, and carries a serious risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. “We would like ski areas to have these machines so that skiers can protect their faces,” Deb Girard, executive director of the MFNE, told TheDoctor.

MFNE is making a number of weather-resistant sunscreen dispensers available to cities, businesses, and non-profits as part of its Practice Safe Skin initiative, a joint effort with Make Big Change, a New Hampshire-based organization dedicated to skin cancer awareness. The online application process is now open, and will continue through the end of March.

The dispensers can also be purchased directly. Interested businesses and non-profits can purchase a unit from MFNE for $400, and donate it to their community or their employees. “We would love to work with any company or organization who is interested in giving back to their community or their employees, and would be willing to purchase dispensers and sunscreen from us directly,” said Girard.

For $400, communities get a sensor-activated dispenser with educational materials, a pole to secure the dispenser, and a case of four 1,000 mL bags of sunscreen -- about 2,700 pumps worth. The units automatically dispense an all-natural mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30.

Not only does sunscreen help protect against skin cancers, it prevents the premature aging sun exposure brings.

In addition to public parks and outdoor spaces, another possibility is placing units on college campuses and schools, Girard said. School personnel are not allowed to put sunscreen on kids, but “…[I]f a school has one on their playground or playing field, they can remind the kids to put their sunscreen on...they can put it on themselves,” Girard points out.

The foundation also hopes to partner with large sports organizations like Major League Baseball so that eventually there would be dispensers at ballparks around the country. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure that wherever there is outdoor activity, people have an opportunity to wear sunscreen,” Girard said.

To apply for a free dispenser or purchase a dispenser directly, visit the MFNE website.