If you’re anything like me, over winter the drawers and cupboards that you use to store swimmers, goggles, rashies, swim caps, fins and beach toys tend to be forgotten. Everything kind of stuffed in there from the last time you used them last summer.
Suddenly it’s warming up again and we’re about to head back to the beach and back into the pool. So this weekend, top of my list is to tidy out those drawers and make sure we’re stocked up with everything we need for summer.
Our family is pretty good when it comes to being out and about and being sun sensible about it; I grew up with ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ and have proudly carried that through to our kids.
I’ve only recently realised though that there is more I can be doing as Mum to increase the chances of our family reaching old age as sun safely as possible.
We all know that for the best protection from the sun, the Cancer Council recommends that we all:
- Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. We should always apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and every two hours after that. Importantly sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
- Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
- Seek shade – whenever possible head undercover out of the direct sun
- Slide on some sunglasses – making sure they meet Australian standards for the best protection
If you find it hard to get the kids to comply with all the above (I always did when my kids were little), keep this video on your phone or tablet and use it as part of your ‘get ready for the day’ routine.
Try and make ‘getting sun ready’ as routine as brushing your teeth. Something that is non negotiable and just has to happen before anyone leaves the house.
When it comes to sun safety, I have to admit there are a couple of things I’ve been doing wrong! I thought I had it all down pat but there were a couple of gaps.
The first was when it comes to APPLYING SUNSCREEN. The Cancer Council recommends we all apply sunscreen liberally – at least one teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears. If your partner’s hair is heading south or they choose a super short haircut or to shave it all off have them remember to take their sunscreen right up and over their head as well.
Turns out I was like most people who don’t use enough sunscreen which results in only 50 – 80% of the protection stated on the sunscreen.
The second area I thought I was OK with was the SAFE TIME OF DAY for us to be in the sun and be a little more relaxed about the sun regime. Growing up we always had to be under cover between 10am and 2pm. Well on the weekends anyway – school lunch breaks always blew that plan!
The thing I’ve just realised is that every day is different. Radiation levels rise and fall and a super hot or cool and cloudy day are not necessarily related to the levels ultraviolet (UV) rays on that day.
Check out the SunSmart APP for ios or Android to keep track of the UV levels throughout the day. The app, uses a daily report from the Bureau of Meteorology and identifies times during the day when the UV level is 3 or above and sun protection is needed.
I also thought I was pretty up on the reported vitamin D deficiency of most Australians so would happily let my kids play outside on cooler days ‘cream free’.
While there is definitely a requirement for vitamin D, the Cancer Council advises that in summer, most people only need a few minutes of sun each day, outside peak UV times, on the equivalent skin area to that of face, arms and hands. During winter, in southern parts of Australia, some people may require a few hours. People with darker skin also require longer periods of time to get the same vitamin D levels.
It is different for everyone so the best advice here is to check with your GP or the Cancer Council.
So it looks like that quick drawer tidy is going to require a little more planning this year. But it’s one of the best investments of time I’m going to make all year. If keeping everyone in our family means getting a little organised when it comes to sun protection, I’m all in.
And while we do our very best to protect our kids at home, eftpos and the Cancer Council are making sure our kids are protected while they are at school. The Shade for Schools program launched in 2014, enabling 45 Australian secondary schools to erect shade structures, helping to protect around 28,000 students. Based on the success of the program, eftpos has pledged an extra $250,000 to provide shade grants to a further 18 schools across Australia.
“eftpos is proud to support this program because skin cancer is such a significant issue in Australia,” said eftpos Managing Director Bruce Mansfield.
“This program is important because it helps to protect Australian students from the sun.”
How’s your summer sun planning coming along?