The sun sends out different types of radiation – visible light that we see as sunlight, infrared radiation felt as heat and UV radiation that we can’t see or feel on our skin. People often confuse infrared (heat) and UV radiation. It is not the heat that causes sunburn and skin damage, it is the UV radiation that damages our skin and can increase our risk of skin cancer and premature ageing. A UV level of 3 or higher is strong enough to damage our skin and eyes.
When the temperature is cool it means less infrared radiation is present but not necessarily less UV radiation. It’s often the cooler days that result in skin damage because the UV level can be high while the temperature is not. It can be hard to mentally disconnect heat and UV because when it is hot our skin does feel like it is burning but in reality the heat we are feeling is the infrared radiation which does not cause sunburn.
In South Australia the UV radiation level is 3 and above from the beginning of August until the end of April even though the weather can be mild. Therefore DECD and Cancer Council SA recommend that a local sun protection policy is implemented in terms 1, 3 and 4.
The UV radiation level can also be 3 and above in term 2, so it is recommended that DECD staff and families check the UV forecast three days in advance via the Bureau of Meteorology website if arranging an all-day outdoor activity in term 2.
The conclusion regarding when the UV is 3 and above was drawn by accessing data collected by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).
To assist you to access up to date information regarding the UV level for your location you can visit the Bureau of Meteorology website, the ARPANSA website, download the free SunSmart app to your smartphone or iPad, or upload the SunSmart widget to your webpage.