Ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels are already rising in Victoria so don't wait until summer to use sun protection.
SunSmart Program Manager Sue Heward said from September through to the end of April average UV levels in Victoria are 3 and above, which is when UV radiation can damage skin and eyes and lead to skin cancer.
"With UV levels likely to reach high levels over spring, it is important that people know when to use sun protection," Ms Heward said. "In fact, already during the last week of August, we have seen UV levels reach as high as 5, particularly across the northern parts of the State. Get in the habit of checking the UV alert every day to see what times you need to get your sun protection gear on."
"It's a common myth that sun protection is only needed when it's hot or sunny. You cannot see or feel UV so using temperature as an indicator is going to get you in trouble."
"It's a good idea to use a combination of sun protection steps when the UV level is three or above. Slip on sun protective clothing, slap on a hat, slop on some sunscreen, seek shade and slide on some sunglasses," said Ms Heward.
Overexposure to UV is the main cause of skin and eye damage and skin cancer.
Tragically, skin cancer is Australia's most prevalent but also preventable cancer.
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Over 1830 Australians die from skin cancer each year and two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. In 2009, 401 Victorians died from melanoma and other skin cancers - more than the state road toll.
"From September to April, just a few minutes of UV exposure to the face, arms and hands or equivalent area of skin should be enough for most people to maintain vitamin D levels," Ms Heward said. "However people with naturally very dark skin may need three to six times the exposure level."
You can find the SunSmart UV Alert in the weather section of daily newspapers, at www.sunsmart.com.au and as a free iPhone app. Particular care should be taken in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense.