Tasmanian sun smart practices for spring

SLIP SLOP SLAP: Five-year-old Oliver Fairbairn of Launceston, has a sun safe day at the Gorge with sister Isabella, 8. Picture: Neil Richardson
SLIP SLOP SLAP: Five-year-old Oliver Fairbairn of Launceston, has a sun safe day at the Gorge with sister Isabella, 8. Picture: Neil Richardson

Weather experts are warning Tasmanians not to underestimate the risk of ultraviolet (UV) rays as the state enjoys a streak of milder spring days.

Bureau of Meteorology supervising meteorologist, Simon McCulloch, said even though Tasmania was not feeling the heat of summer just yet, UV protection was already necessary. 

"It is really important that people don't just use the temperature to determine if there is a risk," he said.

"As we move into the spring and summer months, we will see warmer days and higher UV ratings, but it won't be the temperature that decides the UV rating.”

Mr McCulloch said although some people still believe the UV rating is determined by how hot it is on the day, the rating will actually be determined by several factors including the angle of the sun, the amount of cloud cover, surface reflection, and the time of day and time of year.

"We could have a day in October that is 16 degrees and another day in the same month that reaches 26 degrees, but both days can potentially have the same UV rating," he said.

"The risk is there even if the heat isn't, so it is essential that people stay protected when outside."

With school holidays in full swing and the Royal Launceston Show due to open its gates on Thursday, the Bureau of Meteorology recommends people download the free SunSmart app to help better protect themselves when they are out and about.  

The app tell users when sun protection is recommended based on their location and also takes into account personal factors such as skin type, weight, age and gender. 

There is also a feature to set up a sun protection alert to receive daily reminders for the times of day when UV reaches a level that can damage your skin and eyes, as well as two-hour reminders to reapply sunscreen.

Because UV rays cannot be seen or felt, its long term effects including sunburn, premature ageing, eye damage and skin cancer can often catch people off guard.

According to Melanoma Tasmania founder, Di Mason, melanoma is the third most common cancer in Tasmanian women and the fourth most common cancer in Tasmanian men.

"Even though we know what causes it and how to minimise our risk, [melanoma] remains one of our most commonly diagnosed cancers," Ms Mason said.

“We can check the UV rating each day, during the day, so we need to be proactive and plan our days making sure to follow the basic principles of sun protection by seeking shade, wearing appropriate clothing, and wearing hats, sunscreen and sun glasses."