SunSmart gives Victorians something to sing about - from September there are 5 things to remember!

Sunday 14 September, 2008

Slip! Slop!Slap!, the catchy slogan which has formed the backbone of SunSmart's sun protection campaigns since the 80s, is being updated as evidence shows there's more to sun protection than slipping on a shirt, slopping on sunscreen and slapping on a hat.

The words Seek and Slide have been officially added to the list of sun protection behaviours and SunSmart is urging Victorians to also Seek shade and Slide on some sunglasses from September to the end of April, the period when UV levels can be strong enough to damage skin and eyes and lead to skin cancer.

To help educate children on all 5 sun protection measures, SunSmart today launched its new song, The Sunsmart Countdown. Sung by popular children's singer, Justine Clarke, the song is being sent to all SunSmart schools and early childhood services across Victoria.

SunSmart school and early childhood members are being invited to take part in a singing competition using the lyrics, with the winner announced in National Skin Cancer Action Week in November.

SunSmart's program manager, Ms Sue Heward, said work was already being done to educate adults on the two new sun protection measures but that a novel approach was needed for children.

"We know the Slip! Slop! Slap! message is ingrained in the psyche of most Victorian adults and we are building on this in current and future campaigns by adding the two additional messages. But it's important we instill SunSmart habits in children as sun protection, particularly during childhood and adolescence, is a key factor in helping to minimise the risk of skin cancer", said Ms Heward.

The Cancer Council said strong evidence shows shade and correct eyewear are equally important parts of the sun protection message.

John Greenwood, an architect and shade consultant to the Cancer Council Victoria said, "Shade alone can reduce overall exposure to UV radiation by up to 75%*, so it really should be the first line of defence, especially when people are outdoors. This is particularly important for infants and children because UV exposure in the early years has a significant impact on the likelihood of developing skin cancer later in life."

Shirley Loh from the Optometrists Association Australia said, "Exposure of the eyes to UV radiation can cause both short-term effects including corneal sunburn, sore, watery eyes and blurry vision as well as long-term ocular damage such as development of cataracts, and cancer of the eye surface and eyelids. Sunglasses should be a close fitting, wrap around style that covers as much of the eye area as possible. They should also meet the Australian Standard 1067 categories, 3, 4 or 5 in order to provide good protection from UV radiation*."

When should Victorians start being SunSmart?

Don't wait until summer! From September UV Index levels are rising again. Whenever the UV Index level reaches 3 and above, it's time to use a combination of the five sun protection measures because that's when the UV can damage skin and eyes and lead to skin cancer.

Check the SunSmart UV Alert in the weather section of the daily newspaper or on the Bureau of Meteorology website. It lets you know what the UV Index levels are for the day and the time sun protection is needed. At the moment the UV index is 3 or above for between two to three hours in the middle of the day, so that's when sun protection is needed. When the SunSmart UV Alert is issued, it's important to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunglasses.

Most skin cancer can be prevented by being SunSmart when you're enjoying time outdoors. 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

When the UV Index is 3 or above, use a combination of the following 5 sun protection

  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 two 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.
  6. Particular care should be taken between 10am and 2pm (11am and 3pm daylight saving time) when UV Index levels reach their peak.

*75% Parsons PG, Neale R, Wolski P, Green A. The shady side of solar protection. Medical Journal of Australia 1998; 168: 327-330.

*Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand. Australian Standard AS 1067 (Sunglasses and fashion spectacles). In: Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand, 2003. ARPANSA developed an eye protection factor (EPF) where sunglasses that comply with AS/NZS 1067:2003 can be assigned an EPF rating from 1 to 10. Sunglasses with EPF values of 9 and 10 transmit almost no UVR.