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Slip, slop, slap, seek, slide – and slopes!

Monday 7 June, 2010

Pack your sun protection gear for the slopes – that’s the message from SunSmart ahead of the official ski season opening this weekend. 

SunSmart Manager Sue Heward is urging people to protect themselves from ultraviolet (UV) radiation at the snow.

“UV radiation is more intense at high altitudes,” Ms Heward said. “At Mt Buller, Falls Creek and Hotham, there is almost 10 per cent more UV than at sea level.

“On a sunny day, clean fresh snow can reflect as much as 88 per cent of UV. You get almost a double dose of UV - directly from the sun and indirectly when it is scattered and reflected by the snow.”

Tips for sun protection at the slopes include:

  • Applying SPF30+, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen and lip balm 20 minutes before going outside and reapplying every two hours (put a small tube of sunscreen in your jacket pocket or bag).
  • Protecting your eyes by wearing goggles or wrap around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard.
  • Covering your head and ears and wearing tops with long sleeves and a high neck or collar.
  • Trying to have a break by getting inside or under shade during the middle part of the day.

“UV damage can easily occur even when conditions are cold or overcast,” Ms Heward said. “And you don’t have to be sunburnt to be at risk – a tan is a sign that your skin has been damaged.”

Using sun protection at the snow is the exception during the winter months in Victoria.

“From May to August unless you are in alpine areas, near highly reflective surfaces or outside for extended periods of time, you don’t need to use sun protection,” Ms Heward said.

“It’s a good time to get some UV exposure to help maintain vitamin D levels, which is important for general health. Most people need 2 to 3 hours spread across a week while people with naturally very dark skin need 3 to 6 times this exposure level.

“The key is to check the SunSmart UV Alert in the weather section of daily newspapers and on the Bureau of Meteorology website, which now forecasts UV levels in alpine areas.”

For more information on skin cancer, vitamin D and sun protection go to