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5 reasons you should stay sunsafe this autumn and winter

A woman wears a large jacket, scarf and sunhat.
Sun protection is a must in Queensland all year round.

The days are cooler, the evenings are creeping in faster and the sting of summer has disappeared from the air. But just because autumn is here and winter is soon to follow, you shouldn’t slack off when it comes to protecting yourself from the Queensland sun.

Here are five reasons why sun safety is important in Queensland all year round.

1. Our UV levels are dangerously high all the time

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause skin damage that leads to cancer. We measure the amount of UV on any given day with the UV Index, which ranges from 1 to 15. If the UV index measures above a 3, the amount of UV is enough to cause skin damage quickly, and you need to stay out of the sun or protect your skin.

In Queensland, the UV index measures above a 3 almost every single day of the year. This means that there’s no good day to be out in the sun without protection. You can find out the day’s UV forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology or you favourite weather app.

2. 80% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure

Around 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the time they’re 70, but having skin cancer isn’t just an inevitable part of growing older. According to Cancer Council Australia, about 80% of these skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. This means that by limiting our time in the sun, we can greatly reduce our risk of developing skin cancer.

3. You’re already getting all the sun you ‘need’

You might have heard that you get vitamin Dfrom sunlight, and that’s true; sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D you can get. But you don’t need to get a lot of sun on your skin to get ample amounts of vitamin D. In Queensland, you’ll get your fill from everyday activities like hanging out the washing, walking the dog or walking to catch transport or go to work. Rather than being good for you, spending extra time in the sun puts your health at risk by causing skin damage that might lead to cancer.

A woman and her son wear winter clothing and hats and stand on a rainforest boardwalk with binoculars.

4. You can’t tell when sun damage has started

If you’re planning to spend some time soaking up the sun’s rays because you think you’ll know when it’s time to seek some shade, think again. By the time you can see your skin getting pink from the sun or feel it starting to sting, it’s too late – sun damage, which could go on to cause cancer, has well and truly started.

5. Winter clouds don’t block the sun’s rays

Even on a gloomy winter day, clouds don’t block out all the UV radiation from the sun. This means that even though you’re not getting warm in the sunshine, your skin could still be getting damaged. No matter the weather, if you’re out and about, remember to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.

How can I protect my skin from the sun?

In Queensland, it’s best to stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially between peak UV hours 9am-3pm.

If you do need to be outside, follow the five Ss to stay sun safe:

Slip – slip on a shirt, with long sleeves and a collar

Slop – slop on some broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen

Slap – slap on a broad-brimmed hat

Seek – seek shade whenever possible

Slide – slide on a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes

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Last updated: 13 May 2020