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Four things to add to your summer survival kit

Wednesday 21 December 2016

young boy wearing a red rash vest having fun on a tropical beach
Hit the water with a UPF 50+ rash vest to protect your skin

The hot, sweaty days of summer are approaching and a Queenslander's thoughts naturally turn towards spending time at the local beach, pool, or creek where they can swim and escape the heat. Some of us are going to come back from the water in the pink of health, having perfectly prepared for the Queensland sun.

Some of us are just going to come back in varying shades of pink and scarlet.

If you'd rather be a perfectly prepared summer ninja than a crispy lobster who has basked too long in the sun, the most important step is being smart enough to slip, slop, slap, seek, and slide.

But if you really want to level up your summer swimming kit, here are four additional things to consider beyond the broadbrim hat, shirt, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, shade and sunglasses you need to survive in the Queensland sun.

Rash vest

The advice to slipping on a shirt doesn't just apply when you're on dry land. If you're spending a lot of time in the water this summer, get your hands on a rash vest or swim shirt that will let you slip on a shirt while you're in the water - without getting dragged down by waterlogged cotton.

If you really want to get into the Christmas spirit, the Cancer Council Australia has a limited edition Ugly Christmas Rashy every year - a lycra vest rated UPF 50+ that mimics the style of the ugly Christmas sweaters so beloved of our friends in the northern hemisphere.

Bottled water

Just because you're surrounded by water when you're swimming, it doesn't mean that you're automatically safe from dehydration. The combination of heat, physical exercise, and location can make it hard to track down water when you need it, or it can make water harder to find than less healthy, less hydrating alternatives.

Plan to keep yourself hydrated, especially if you're putting in a longer day at the beach or the pool, and pack some bottled water to make sure you've got a drink when you need one. Remember: just because your sweat gets washed away while you're exercising, it doesn't mean you're not sweating.

Phone alarm or kitchen timer

You sunscreen will generally last about two hours under ordinary circumstances, but once you hit the water you can expect that to drop down to about an hour of protection thanks to the combination of sweat and water washing the sunscreen away.

Don't rely on your gut - or the first stinging sensation that accompanies sunburn - to tell you when it's time to head back to the towels and re-apply. Set an alarm on your phone or take a cheap kitchen timer along, so you've got a reliable time marker that lets you now when your hour is up.

The SunSmart phone app

Produced by the Cancer Council Australia, the SunSmart app has a sunscreen calculator and you can set a reminder to reapply your sunscreen. Get the free SunSmart app on iOS and Android, and receive information about current UV levels for your location.

If you use the apps sunscreen calculator before you hit the beach, you can also set the app to double as your alarm letting you know that it's time to re-apply.

Want to learn more about sun safety?

Read more about performing regular skin checks, breaking down the sun safe myths, and staying sun safe regardless of the season.

Last updated: 13 February 2018