Skip links and keyboard navigation

Cook a snag, not yourself

Queensland Health have partnered with Surf Life Saving Queensland to remind Queenslanders about the dangers of too much sun exposure ahead of Australia Day celebrations.

Acting Public Health Physician, Andre Wattiaux said it is concerning that in 2018 54 per cent of Queensland adults reported experiencing sunburn in the last 12 months.

“It is estimated that 2.1 million Queensland adults and 394,000 Queensland children had been sunburnt in the previous 12 months – that’s half the population,” Dr Wattiaux said.

“We are urging Queenslanders to make sun safety a priority, to reduce their skin cancer risk, and avoid a really uncomfortable few days following sunburn.

“Australia Day falls around the hottest part of the year and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) levels are extreme.

“Unprotected skin will burn in under 10 minutes, so if you are spending the weekend at the beach or outdoors it is important to use combination of the five sun safe behaviours.

“Last year our emergency departments saw 43 presentations for sunburn over the Australia Day period, which has increased four-fold in the last five years – and that’s just the number of people sunburnt so badly that they attended an emergency department.”

Surf Life Saving Queensland Chief Executive Officer John Brennan said sun safety was as essential to a day at the beach as swimming between the red and yellow flags.

“Hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors will enjoy the Australia Day long weekend at Queensland’s beaches, basking in our beautiful sunshine,” Mr Brennan said.

“However, sun protection is vital to ensure your day at the beach is not ruined by sunburn.

“I definitely encourage beachgoers to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide, in addition to our additional safety advice – SWIM between the red and yellow flags!”

UVR is the principal cause of skin cancer, and many people do not know that it is not related to heat or temperature and cannot be seen or felt.  

“In Queensland UVR levels are high enough every day to damage our skin, even on cloudy days – so Queenslanders need to use sun safe behaviours every day of the year,” Dr Wattiaux said.

“It’s staggering that only about 1 in 2 children and 1 in 5 adults use daily sun protection.

“That’s not good enough with evidence showing getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma.

“We know the correct use of sunscreen could reduce the prevalence of all skin cancers by 10 to 15 percent, and daily use could reduce the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

“I encourage all Queenslanders regardless to follow the five simple ways to be sun safe - slip on a shirt, slop on broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade, and slide on some sunglasses.”

ENDS

Adults sunburnt in previous 12 months
(2018)

HHS

Sunburn

% of total adult population

Blistering sunburn

Queensland

2,100,000

54.3

230,000

Cairns and Hinterland

100,000

53.5

13,000

Central Queensland

110,000

59.2

12,000

Central West

4,200

44.2

720

Darling Downs

110,000

52.2

14,000

Gold Coast

240,000

52.7

27,000

Mackay

85,000

59.6

11,000

Metro North

390,000

50.9

39,000

Metro South

440,000

50.6

53,000

North West

14,000

56.6

1,800

South West

11,000

54.8

1,500

Sunshine Coast

160,000

50.6

16,000

Torres and Cape

12,000

67.9

1,100

Townsville

110,000

59.9

17,000

West Moreton

110,000

54.8

15,000

Wide Bay

84,000

48.9

12,000

Media contact:            3708 5376

*Emergency Department presentations for sunburn occurred between 26/1/2018-31/01/2018.

*Latest data is from the 2018 Health of Queenslanders Report.

Last updated: 24 January 2019