Peak UV season is here

Wednesday 5 January, 2011

Know when it is safe to play in the sun this summer by checking the UV levels each day before heading out and noting the times of the day when sun protection is required.

Victoria is now in peak ultraviolet (UV) radiation season where levels reach extreme. It's UV radiation, not the temperature or amount of sunshine, that causes sunburn, tanning, skin and eye damage and skin cancer - this time of year is a key time for sun protection.

On a January day without sun protection it can take as little as 11 minutes for the signs of sunburn to appear. Even when it's overcast, often the UV level is still extreme which can result in accidental sunburn, tanning, skin and eye damage and an increased risk of skin cancer.

This summer, SunSmart is running the melanoma awareness campaign - the Dark Side of Tanning.

The campaign hits home about the deadly nature of melanoma, which is one of the most common cancers in young Victorians. By graphically representing the damaging impact of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the campaign aims to increase awareness of the dangers of sun baking and tanning by challenging the misconception that a tan does no damage.

The Dark Side of Tanning campaign was developed by the Cancer Institute NSW. The SunSmart program (Cancer Council Victoria) first implemented the Dark Side of Tanning campaign in Victoria during the summer of 2009–10, with funding from the State Government and VicHealth.

Sunsmart has also launched its first iPhone app to provide Australians with free, easy-to-access information about the daily UV level for their location and the times of the day that sun protection is required. The aim is to make it easier than ever for everyone to build sun protection into their daily routines. The app is available for free download from the iTunes App Store.

Australian Cricket's Twenty-20 captain and Test vice captain, Michael Clarke, has had three skin cancers removed from his face and said he looked forward to using the new SunSmart app.

"It's a great way to know when I need to protect myself. Within a few seconds, I can find out the weather, temperature, UV level and most importantly the times of the day when I need to use sun protection. So, before I head out for training, I can make sure I am prepared for the day ahead," he said.  

SunSmart Summer Tips

Preparation is the key to protecting yourself in the sun so check the daily SunSmart UV alert before heading out and note the time of the day that sun protection is required. Remember to use a combination of the five SunSmart steps. Never just rely on one form of protection.

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible.
  2. Slop on SPF30+ broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out and make sure to take a bottle or tube with you so you can re-apply every two hours.
  3. Slap on a hat - a wide brimmed hat will protect your face, head, neck and ears. Baseball caps do not provide enough coverage.
  4. Seek shade.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards, are close-fitting and cover as much of the eye area as possible.

The SunSmart app is now available to download for free from the iTunes App Store. The SunSmart UV Alert is also available at, on the Bureau of Meteorology website and in weather section of daily newspapers.