Up here in the NT, UV levels are very high to extreme all year round and sun protection is required every single day. Back in Melbourne you can get away without using any sun protection during the winter months as the mid-day sun’s UV index rarely rises above 2. Here in the NT, the noon UV index never falls below 8 all year round. However, through speaking to parents and children alike, a common theme has arisen. It seems that many Territorians, young and old, are of the understanding that “the sun is not as harsh up here”. I’m unsure how this perception has come about, however I feel a strong sense of responsibility to extinguish it as swiftly as possible.
In fact, the NT has the highest average noon UV index in all of Australia.
Therefore, Territorians are at a higher risk of sunburn and skin cancer later in life – especially Territorian children. It has been shown that skin thickness shows a gradual increase from birth to adulthood. To add to this, children tend to spend more time being active outdoors, and are most likely not thinking about their skin being damaged by something that is basically invisible and impossible to gauge by human beings…UV radiation. You see, UV radiation is an invisible danger because it’s not like the sun’s warmth, which we feel, or the sun’s light, which we can see.
Recommendations from the Cancer Council NT
Remember, every time we overexpose our skin to UV rays, the damage adds up to increase our risk of skin cancer. To make kids aware of the daily UV index in your area, make it part of your routine to check the daily UV levels and sun protection times. The sun doesn’t give friendly reminders, so be ahead of the game.
Download the free SunSmart app and when the UV level is 3 or above, protect your family in 5 ways – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide!
Written by Jack Wallace, Cancer Prevention Coordinator,
Cancer Council NT