HOW TO BE SUN SMART
By following five simple sun protection steps, you can reduce your risk of skin cancer.
1. Slip on Protective Clothing
- Clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Materials that have a close weave for higher UV protection
- Darker clothes which absorb more UV radiation
- Cotton, polyester and linen materials – lightweight and cool to wear
- Materials that maintain their sun protection when wet, such as lycra
2. Slop on SPF 30+ Sunscreen
Sunscreen should not be relied on as the only form of sun protection. No sunscreen provides 100% UV protection – remember to use in combination with protective clothing, hats & sunglasses.
Look for a sunscreen that:
- Has a protection factor (SPF) of 30+
- Labelled ‘broad spectrum’ – this will filter both UVA and UVB radiation
- Is water resistant – less likely to be washed off by water activities
- Has a valid expiry date
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors
- Apply a thick layer of sunscreen
- Re-apply every 2 hours, or more often if in water
- Remember your lips
3. Slap on a hat
Slap on a hat that provides as much shade as possible to your face, head, neck, ears and eyes.
There are three main styles of hats that provide adequate sun protection:
- Broad brimmed hats – with a brim of at least 7.5cm
- Bucket or ’surfie-style’ hats – with a deep crown and brim of at least 6cm
- Legionnaire hats which has a flap that covers the neck
4. Seek shade
Staying in the shade is one of the most effective ways to reduce sun exposure, but remember that other sun protection measures (clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen) should also be used to avoid reflected UV radiation. Whatever you use for shade, be it trees, built shade structures or some form of portable shade, make sure it casts a dark shadow.
5. Slide on some sunglasses
Sunglasses can protect your eyes against UV radiation.
When choosing sunglasses, look for:
- Frames that fit close to the face
- Wrap around styles that reduce UV entering from the sides
- Sunglasses that meet Australian standards
- Sunglasses that have an eye protection factor (EPF) of 10
Children should always be supervised at the beach and near water, no matter what age they are. And it is important to teach children good safety practices when they are at the beach.
Start by setting a good example, being aware of the dangers and always following safe practices.
While most days at the beach go by without a care in the world, it is important that you and your children recognise the hazards that the beach can bring: waves, rips and stingers. By avoiding them or knowing how to deal with them, swimming and playing at the beach should pose no problem.
Ensure your children know to always swim between the red and yellow flags. This is where the lifesavers (lifeguards) patrol and can help if you have problems in the surf. If there are no flags, ask a lifeguard if there is a safe place to swim, and if there is no lifeguard, find another beach!
Avoid plunging waves or "dumpers" as these break with tremendous force and can easily throw you onto a shallow sand bar beneath the wave, which can in turn, cause serious injury. Waves can be deceptive — it is safest for children to always swim with an adult.
If you happen to get caught in a rip, the most important thing to remember is don't panic. Rips form where water moves over the sand bars towards the beach, returns back to sea via the channel between the sand bars. Never attempt to swim directly back to shore, but go with the rip and it will slowly take you across the beach. Raise your arm to indicate you are in trouble, float and wait for assistance from a lifeguard.
Box jellyfish (stingers):
The south-western stinger is the most prominent jellyfish in Perth waters over the summer season. It is cube-shaped and can reach 3.5cm in length and its four tentacles can range from 10cm to 36cm. When those tentacles brush over you it can be a painful sting but it is not dangerous.
The stinger tends to populate the water in swarms, so if there is one there will be quite a few. They are prevalent from the end of December to February.
While vinegar and ice have been flagged as treatments for a sting, hot water is the best way to ease the pain.
Bluebottles, with their transparent blue sac and long, trailing tentacles invade some beaches periodically, particularly over the summer months. They can appear very attractive to inquisitive children, who should be warned they can give a very painful sting. Children should avoid them in the water and on the beach and be advised never to pick them up. Lifeguards will warn swimmers, usually with a sign, if bluebottles are prevalent, and will treat anyone who is stung. The easiest remedy is hot water (cold will do) but it will take a little while for the sting to subside. They are not deadly.