Be Sun Smart

The Australian summer is like one big party where people long to soak up the sun in the great outdoors as the days grow longer. But if you spend a lot of time in the sun without adequate protection, you may develop heat exhaustion, dehydration and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. At least two in three Australians will be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the age of 70.

On an average Australian summer's day, sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes. The sun gives out UV radiation that is magnified by light clouds, is scattered throughout the air and then reflected by surfaces such as buildings, concrete, sand and snow - all onto unsuspecting people.

Whether you are heading out to the beach, the bush or just hanging out with friends with the backyard, follow these five ‘sun safe’ steps to make sure you are prepared and protected.

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1. Wear sunscreen

Remember to apply sunscreen to protect your skin 20 minutes before sun exposure and throughout the day. Re-apply every two hours or more often if you are swimming or perspiring.

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2. Wear a hat

Wear a broad-brimmed hat that covers your face, neck and ears.

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3. Wear sunglasses

Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays from the sun and from reflection from water and sand.

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4. Find shade

Whenever possible, move to the shade or bring an umbrella or portable shade structure.

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5. Cover up

Choose clothing that provides a good level of skin coverage. Any exposed skin you can protect by applying sunscreen or by wearing a hat and using shaded outdoor areas.

Heat exhaustion and treatment

During extreme hot weather, you may develop heat exhaustion or even heatstroke which can be a life threatening condition. This happens when someone becomes dehydrated due to loss of water.

Follow the steps below to help prevent this:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol which can dehydrate you
  • Protect yourself by following the five steps above
  • Limit physical activity and time outdoors during hot weather.

For more tips on treating heat exhaustion, click here.

Only visit the hospital if you have a medical emergency. If it is a medical emergency, you need to call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Some of the conditions that are considered medical emergencies include chest pain or tightness, sudden weakness or numbness to the face, arm or leg, breathing difficulties and sudden collapse or unconsciousness.

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