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Pack your hat and sunscreen and Slip! Slop! Slap! your way back to school

Monday 5 February, 2007


kids_back_to_schoolWith thousands of children starting the new school year right now, it's a great time to remind students, parents and teachers of how to stay SunSmart at school.

SunSmart says sun protection at school is vital for children between September and April, as ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels are high for most of the day at these times of the year.

So for those heading back to school, here are some tips on staying SunSmart.

Make sure your school uniform is SunSmart

  • Clothing offers the best level of protection against harmful UV radiation. Look for uniforms that have a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 30 or more. The higher the UPF, the better the protection.
  • For best protection, school tops should be elbow length or longer, preferably with a collar.
  • School skirts or shorts are best if they are a longer style.
  • Look for a hat such as a wide brim, legionnaire hat or bucket style hat for best protection of the face, neck and ears. Baseball caps don't provide enough protection.
  • Encourage children to slap on a hat if they walk home from school. At this time of year the UV radiation level is still high in the mid-afternoon, so a hat is still necessary.

In the bag

  • Make sure a wide brimmed, legionnaire or bucket hat is on your child's head when they walk out the door.
  • Pack a tube of sunscreen and remind children to reapply every time they head outside.
  • If you find it difficult to encourage your child to use sunscreen, try a spray-on sunscreen or a gel for something new.

For parents and teachers: be a role model

  • The best way for a child to learn about sun protection is through their parents and teachers: so remember to wear a wide brimmed hat, protective clothing and sunscreen when you are outside.
  • Show your child how to apply sunscreen to offer the best protection. Most people don't apply enough sunscreen, so be generous: you need about a teaspoon for each part of your body. Apply 20 minutes before going outside.

Check the SunSmart UV Alert

At this time of year, UV Index levels are at high or extreme levels for most of the day.
Get into the habit of checking the SunSmart UV Alert every day. You can find it in the weather section of daily newspapers or on the Bureau of Meteorology website at

The UV Alert is issued when the UV Index is forecast to reach 3 and above: the level that can cause skin damage and lead to skin cancer. The UV Index level is three and above for most of the day during summer. If you go outside when the UV Index level is 3 or above, remember to use a combination of the following five steps to save your skin. Never rely on just one.

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  2. Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen: make sure it is broad spectrum and water resistant
  3. Slap on a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on some sunglasses: make sure they meet Australian Standards

For more information go to or call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.