Cancer Council is urging Queensland schools to make sun safety a priority this winter to protect children from the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Research shows around 64 per cent of Queensland children aged five to 17 years are sunburnt annually*, significantly increasing the risk of skin cancer later in life.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said despite the cooler weather setting in, over exposure to UV radiation remained a burning issue across the sunshine state.
“The number of Queensland children who are sunburnt annually is of great concern. It’s imperative that schools and childcare centres implement strict sun safe policies to help protect their skin even in winter,” Ms McMillan said.
“Sun safety is required when the UV Index is three or above – in Queensland, this is all year round.
“We’re urging schools to take active measures to protect children from the effects of UV radiation by implementing a no-hat no-play policy, providing adequate shade, and encouraging children to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing when outdoors.
“Evidence suggests that childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to a lifetime risk of skin cancers, so it’s vital that children are taught healthy SunSmart habits from a young age.
“Research shows that in summer only 63 per cent of children wear broad-brimmed hats, 32 per cent wear protective clothing and just nine per cent wear sunglasses – with those figures likely to decrease over winter.”
Ms McMillan said that despite common misconceptions, the UV Index level and temperature were not linked.
“You can’t rely on the temperature to assess the likelihood of sun damage – instead we need to ensure we’re preventing it by adhering to all five SunSmart behaviours in all seasons, whenever the UV is three and above,” she said.
“When outdoors, Queenslanders should Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF 30+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies.
“When applying sunscreen, we recommend using at least one teaspoon of minimum SPF 30+ sunscreen per limb, front and back of the torso, and half a teaspoon on the face and neck.
“Skin cancer remains one of the most preventable types of cancer so it’s vital we don’t become complacent about sun safety as we wrap up for winter.”
Around 3600 melanoma and 324,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.
For resources and information on implementing sun safe procedures at schools or childcare centres, join Cancer Council’s free QUEST program at cancerqld.org.au/quest.
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