Sports clubs hit skin cancer and heat illness for 6!

Thursday 11 February, 2010

The UV Exposure and Heat Illness Guide was launched today with the help of Victorian cricketer and DEC Bushranger Bryce McGain. The resource aims to help the Victorian sporting community take a balanced approach to UV and prevent and manage heat illness at club level.

A 2009 survey found that more than half of Victorian State Sporting Associations (SSAs) didn't have a policy for sporting clubs to manage overexposure to UV radiation and just under half didn't have a policy around heat illness.

However, it also found that the majority of Victorian SSAs would implement a combined UV and heat policy if provided with up to date information on what to do.

SunSmart Manager, Sue Heward said playing sport and active recreation are common activities where people get sunburnt, especially adolescents.

"Sadly, Australia is one of the skin cancer capitals of the world. In Victoria, UV levels are high enough from September to April to cause skin damage (from tanning and sunburn) and increase the risk of skin cancer," said Ms Heward. "In the winter months, UV levels are also high in alpine areas and near reflective surfaces like snow.

"Sporting clubs can play a very important role in managing UV exposure throughout the year, but until now there hasn't been unified direction across the state."

Executive Officer of Sports Medicine Australia Lynne Sheehan said anybody who is active should prepare for hot conditions or run the risk of heat injury.

"Heat illness can become a problem if sports personnel are unaware of how to prevent and manage it. This lack of knowledge could potentially place sport participants' health at risk," Ms Sheehan said.

"This Guide ultimately assists sports participants and administrators recognise and manage potentially dangerous weather situations."

Ms Heward said overexposure to UV and heat illness doesn't just occur in hot weather.

"UV levels can be damaging whether it is 20 or 40 degrees and even if it's cloudy or overcast. This can be the same for heat illness when exercising," she said.

"The Guide is an easy to use resource which can be adjusted to reflect the particular regulations and policies of each sport. It helps clubs identify when an event or training should be cancelled or modified and what can be done to prevent injury and illness to players, spectators, coaches and officials."

Cricket Victoria General Manager Game Development John Watkin said the new guidelines are a fantastic initiative and something Cricket Victoria proudly supports.

"The UV Exposure and Heat Illness Guide will play an important role in cricket," he said. "It is inevitable that at times matches will be scheduled for play during extreme heat conditions so it's important we have a policy in place to combat the heat.

"Cricket Victoria has an Extreme Heat Guideline that was created in conjunction with Sports Medicine Australia to help prevent heat illness and manage players within all Victorian cricket competitions."

"Cricketers also face extreme UV conditions being out in the field for long periods so we encourage players at all levels of the game to wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses and consider the option of a long sleeve top."

The UV Exposure and Heat Illness Guide can be used by all active individuals and organisations in Victoria including State Sporting Associations, Regional Sports Assemblies, Local Government Authorities, clubs, schools and providers of physical activity.

Developed by SunSmart and Smartplay, the guide provides up to date information on UV exposure and heat illness, tips for creating, reviewing and implementing local guidelines, a modifiable UV exposure and heat illness checklist and real-life examples.

To download the guide and the modifiable UV exposure and heat illness checklist visit www.sunsmart.com.au or www.smartplay.com.au.

Updated: 11 Feb, 2010