Think UV not Heat

Some people incorrectly use temperature to determine when to use sun protection, rather than the UV Index. Temperature does not affect UV radiation levels. The UV Index can be just as high on a cool or even cold day as it is on a hot one, especially if the skies are clear. The UV Index steadily increases in the morning, peaks around noon, and then decreases in the afternoon. When UV reaches 3 and above, sun protection should be used – regardless of temperature. Download how to read the UV forecast.

So, what is the big deal with UV?

Overexposure to UV radiation from the sun is the major cause of sunburn and skin cancer. You can’t see or feel UV radiation. You can’t rely on clear skies or high temperatures to determine when to use sun protection. When the UV is 3 or above, you need to be SunSmart – slip, slop, slap, seek and slide, and the higher the UV the greater your risk of sunburn and skin cancer. At the start of Term 3, UV will be reaching levels over 3 for much of Western Australia – even if it’s chilly!

What can YOUR school do?

Children are at school when the UV Index is at its peak, which is around noon every day. Schools not only have a duty of care to students, they are also in a great position to educate children about the difference between heat and UV. SunSmart education fits nicely into the Western Australian Health and Science curricula and can easily be incorporated into other learning areas.

Some UV protection strategies schools can adopt:

  • Develop habits such as applying sunscreen on arrival at school and during the day
  • Incorporate SunSmart education into routines, such as including the UV forecast in the morning routine when you write up ‘today’s date’
  • Be a positive role model. Wear a sun protective hat, apply sunscreen and seek shade
  • Encourage students during break times to eat and play in shaded areas
  • Schedule outdoor activities at times when the UV Index is lower
  • Make sunscreen available and accessible to all staff and students. Create a sunscreen station!
  • Communicate SunSmart messages regularly with students and families
  • Include lessons on skin cancer prevention in the curriculum such as analysing Cancer Council’s UV Index advert
  • Ensure your school has an up-to-date UV or sun protection policy

All WA schools are encouraged to join the SunSmart School program, which ensures that minimum criteria are met to ensure staff and students are protected from UV.