It’s summer down under. Aside from preparing for Christmas, we should also prepare for the heat waves.
Australia has the highest number of skin cancer patients compared to the rest of the world with at least 2 of 3 Australians at risk of skin cancer before age 70.
As the continent sits near the equator and has a usual clear, cloudless skies, we receive high amounts of UV rays that may cause premature ageing, sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer.
Over exposure to the summer heat may also cause heat related stress and illnesses.
The good news is we can actually prevent this from happening by following these:
Time your day outside early in the morning or late in the afternoon. As much as possible avoid going out from 10 am to 3 pm when the sun is hottest.
Check UV index
The World Health Organization (WHO) created a worldwide UV index.
You can download a free app, check newspapers or TV forecast, or visit the Bureau of Meteorology website to check for daily updates on UV index rating.
A UV index rating shows the UV radiation levels per region in Australia. A green rating means the UV level is low while a violet rating means it is high.
A UV rating looks like this:
Prepare for a day out
If you really need to go out, make sure you follow these steps:
Slip on protective clothing
Slop SPF 30+ sunscreen or higher
Slap a hat
Slide on a sunglass
Wear cool, long, loose fitting clothes with at least UV Protection Factor (UPF) 15.
If you ran out of one, wear dark colored clothes that have tight woven or knit material for the fabric. This will give extra protection from UV rays.
However, do not wear tight clothing or any clothes that may cause suffocation. Make sure that air can still flow and skin can breathe.
Make sure you apply sunscreen 20 minutes before heading out and re-apply every 2 hours.
Dermatologists approve of sunscreen use even for babies and toddlers. If you are not comfortable, you may try to use brands with baby and toddler formula.
If your skin has a darker colour, you are in luck because you may not need as much sunscreen as fair skinned counterparts. However, this is still your choice, and there is no harm in putting sunscreen – it can reduce the effects of wrinkles due to sun damage.
Not just any hat. Choose ones that can give much needed cover or shade for the face including the ears and the nape.
Good hats are wide brimmed hats, bucket hats and legionnaire hats. Base ball caps, unfortunately, do not offer enough protection,
Always look for a shade whether from natural or man-made objects. Stay away from direct sun exposure as much as possible.
If you have a baby, it is not advisable to leave them under the sun especially when UV ray index is up at 3 and above.
Wear Australian standard (AS/NZS 1067:2003) sunglasses or fashion sunglasses category 2,3 or 4 whenever you are appropriate and necessary.
Choose one that has a close fit, wrap around style that is soft and elastic. Find one that is marked with Eye Protection Factor (EPF) 10.
Choose sunglasses for your children as well, toy sunglasses do not have any protection from UV rays.
Drink plenty of water and eat food with lots of water content like watermelon. Avoid coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks. These drinks have a dehydrating effect.
As much as possible stay in cool indoor areas with a fan, a cooler or an AC. You can also visit shopping centres, cinemas and libraries that offer a cooler environment than outside.
As much as possible do not engage in physical activities especially on mid day.
Do not stay outside for a long time or stay in a car parked under the heat of the sun. Make sure you do not leave a child in a parked car.
Watch Out for Others
Looking out for each other, especially for neighbors and friends, can help save lives. People who are vulnerable are:
Babies and children
The frail and the elderly
People who are unwell or have disabilities
If you know anyone who might be vulnerable from heat related stress or illness, check on them every once in a while or give them a call.
Summer is a fun season. School is out and the holidays are near. We would always want to go out there on the beach or just have a stroll in the park.
But we can never be too careful, make it a habit to be sun smart for a healthier and happier life.
Special thanks to John White for the main image.