Don't get burnt - get SunSmart!

Tuesday 7 October, 2008

The Bureau of Meteorology and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) have joined the Cancer Council Victoria to help in the fight against skin cancer.

With the start of daylight savings the agencies are encouraging Victorians to check the SunSmart UV Alert daily before planning their outdoor activities to ensure they are protecting their skin. The Bureau's SunSmart UV Alert is published daily on the Bureau website and in Victorian daily newspapers.

SunSmart's Sue Heward said: "Victorians may not realise that UV levels are now already high, particularly during the middle of the day so it is an important time to start using sun protection. UV radiation is what causes people to get burnt and skin cancer, not the temperature or amount of sunshine.

"Unfortunately too many people are continuing to take risks with their health and are still getting sunburnt despite the SunSmart messages.

"UV levels tend to be higher between 10 am and 3 pm but UV radiation is often at alert levels outside of those times, doing damage to people's skin in as little as 10 minutes. When UV radiation reached an index of 3 it is strong enough to cause skin damage."

Victorian Regional Director of the Bureau of Meteorology Dr Mark Williams said many people rely on the Bureau for their weather information. Using the SunSmart UV Alert to help plan outdoor activities and skin protection will potentially save lives.

"By combining traditional forecasts with the SunSmart message we are reminding people that they need to check the UV Alert before they head outdoors," Dr Williams said.

ARPANSA's UV Index data has been collected over many years and history shows that at this time of year maximum UV levels can vary dramatically from day to day and it is important that people don't wait until Summer to think about sun protection.

It's easy to check the UV Index each day

The SunSmart UV Alert appears when the UV Index reaches 3 or above. You can find it on the weather page of daily newspapers or on the Bureau of Meteorology website at www.bom.gov.au/weather/vic/vic-uv-index-map.shtml  

When the UV Index is 3 or above, use a combination of the following five sun protection measures:

  1. Slip on sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible
  2. Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen - make sure it is broad spectrum and water resistant. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every 2 hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun
  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.

Particular care should be taken between 11 am and 3 pm daylight savings time when UV Index levels reach their peak. Between these times the UV levels can range from a minimum of 3 up to a maximum of 8 or 9. Live UV levels are also available at http://www.arpansa.gov.au/uvindex/realtime/index.cfm