Don't make sunburn part of your Australia Day celebrations

Tuesday 26 January, 2010

With many people out and about for Australia Day, Victorians should take some simple steps to protect themselves from sunburn.

SunSmart Manager Sue Heward said with ultraviolet (UV) radiation likely to reach extreme levels in some parts of the state, it is important to use sun protection.

"At this time of the year without sun protection it can take as little as 11 minutes for the signs of sunburn to appear," she said. "Whether you attend an official event or enjoy a backyard BBQ, make sure you slip, slop, slap, seek and slide."

And Ms Heward emphasised that even if there isn't sunshine or high temperatures, UV levels can still be extreme.

"It's a common myth that sun protection is only needed when it's hot or sunny. But it's not heat or sunshine that counts, it is UV.

"Overexposure to UV is the main cause of skin damage and skin cancer. Whether it's 20 degrees or 40 degrees, the UV Index can reach extreme levels and it can still be high enough to cause damage even if it's cloudy or overcast."

And it's not just sunburn that you need to worry about. "The truth is that a tan is a sign of your skin cells in trauma. In fact, you don't even have to burn to cause damage to your skin cells," Ms Heward said.

SunSmart tips for Australia Day

Preparation is the key to good sun protection:

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible.
  2. Slop on SPF30+ broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out and make sure to take a bottle or tube with you so you can re-apply every 2hours.
  3. Slap on a sun-protective hat - a wide brimmed hat will protect your face, head, neck and ears. Baseball caps do not provide enough coverage.
  4. Seek shade, especially when UV levels peak between 10am and 3pm.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards, are close-fitting, wrap around and cover as much of the eye area as possible.

UV levels can be checked through the SunSmart UV Alert at www.sunsmart.com.au and in the weather section of daily newspapers. Live UV levels are at www.arpansa.gov.au.

Updated: 26 Jan, 2010