Essential Sun Safety Tips for Outdoor Activities, Concerts, Sporting Events and Festivals
Australia is known for its golden beaches, exciting sports games, unmissable music festivals, and a whole range of outdoor events. However, it's easy to neglect the danger looming above — the sun.
Did you know that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world? Our sun-drenched activities, if left unchecked, expose us to harmful UV (ultraviolet) radiation, leading to an increased risk of skin cancer.
But fear not! We've got you covered. This article will guide you and your family on how to outsmart the sun and enjoy your outing, all while staying safe.
Whether it's supporting your family at a sporting event or enjoying a weekend at a music festival, sun safety begins with information, awareness, and preparation. Let's get started!
Create a plan
A day out in the sun can be a thrilling experience. But remember, every good adventure starts with a well-thought-out plan.
Start by considering the schedule of the event. When will the sun be at its peak? What provisions can you make to minimise exposure during those times?
Think about the essentials: hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and protective clothing. Also, consider comfort items like chairs, blankets, and umbrellas for shade.
Don't forget to plan for hydration and nutrition. Fill your coolers with plenty of water, ice, and sun-smart snacks.
Pre-event planning goes a long way in ensuring a safe, enjoyable time under the sun. Some forethought can protect you and your family from the risks of UV exposure while you're busy creating unforgettable memories.
Clothing and accessories
What you wear to an outdoor event can significantly impact your level of sun protection.
Opt for light-coloured clothing and long-sleeved shirts, as these reflect sunlight and cover a substantial portion of your skin. Don't forget about comfortable pants!
Also, don't overlook accessories! They are your frontline defence against the sun. A hat with a wide brim protects your face, neck, and ears — areas that are highly vulnerable to sun exposure.
Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, so choose a pair that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation.
With the right clothing and accessories, you'll be comfortable and safeguarded against the sun.
Sunscreen is a non-negotiable in your sun safety plan. However, it's not just about having it — it's about how you use it.
Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Begin your application 20 minutes before sun exposure, giving the sunscreen ample time to take effect. It is easy to overlook certain areas, like the back of your ears, your neck, or the tops of your feet, but these are often the most susceptible to sunburn.
Don't forget about reapplication, too. Sunscreen wears off, especially when you're sweating or swimming, so reapplying frequently, every two hours or more, is needed. Remind the kids and other people around you to be diligent with their reapplication.
Sunscreen should be used in combination with other sun protection measures, such as protective clothing and shade, for the most effective defence against UV rays.
Shade and shelter
While sunscreen and protective clothing are important, don't underestimate the power of simple shade.
Taking breaks from direct sunlight can provide much-needed relief from UV radiation. If the event you're attending doesn't provide enough shaded areas, consider bringing your own if the rules allow.
Portable shade options, like tents and umbrellas, can provide a convenient refuge from the sun. Even the shade of nearby trees can make a significant difference to your sun exposure levels.
Be sure to encourage children to play in shaded areas or at least take frequent breaks from being in the direct sun.
Shades aren't just for comfort; they're a key component of sun safety. By incorporating shade and shelter into your plan, you add an extra layer of protection against the sun's harmful rays.
When you're having fun at an event, it's easy to forget just how much the sun can dehydrate you. Staying hydrated is as crucial as protecting your skin.
In the excitement and bustle of a festival or sporting event, you might forget to drink enough water, but dehydration can quickly spoil your day.
Pack plenty of water for everyone in the family. A cooler filled with water bottles and ice provides you with cool, refreshing drinks throughout the day. Try to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol, as they can increase dehydration.
Set reminders on your phone to drink water every 30 minutes if you find you're forgetting. Encourage your kids to take water breaks in between their activities, too.
Staying well-hydrated will not only keep you safe in the sun but will also help you enjoy the event to the fullest.
Even with careful planning and precaution, prolonged exposure to the sun can still take a toll on your skin.
That's where after-sun care comes in, a vital step that's often overlooked. Following a day out in the sun, refresh your skin with a cool shower or bath, and then apply a soothing aloe vera gel or a moisturiser specifically designed for after-sun care.
These products can help alleviate any sunburn discomfort and replenish your skin's moisture.
Check all family members for any unusual or severe sunburns, particularly children. If you do find a worrying sunburn, keep the area cool.
Sunburns are a sign of skin damage, which increases the risk of skin cancer, so it's crucial to minimise their occurrence and treat them promptly when they do happen.
Risk management: Heat exhaustion
It is important to keep in mind that sun exposure can potentially lead to heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or even more severe heat stroke.
It is crucial to recognise the signs and act promptly. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include excessive sweating, pale skin, dizziness, and fatigue.
If left untreated, this may escalate to heat stroke, which may cause high body temperature, an altered mental state, or loss of consciousness.
Manage these risks by regularly retreating to shaded areas, particularly during peak UV radiation times. Encourage everyone to wear protective clothing and stay hydrated.
At the first sign of any heat-related symptoms, seek a cooler environment, hydrate, and rest. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical help immediately.
Regular skin checks
Regular skin checks are an essential part of sun safety. Changes in your skin, especially the development of new moles or changes in existing ones, could indicate potential skin cancer.
Teach your children about the importance of these skin checks too — it's a habit that could very well save their lives in the future.
Get to know your skin and what's normal for you. This will make it easier to spot anything new or different. If you notice anything unusual, seek medical advice as soon as possible.
While skin checks at home are important, they don't replace professional examinations. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, schedule regular appointments for comprehensive skin checks.
Remember, the early detection of skin cancer can drastically improve the treatment outcome. Incorporate regular skin checks into your sun safety plan for peace of mind.
Safety under the sun: How to keep you and your family safe
Enjoying outdoor events under the Australian sun can be a memorable and joyful experience for the whole family. However, it's crucial that this enjoyment doesn't come at the cost of your health.
With a thoughtful plan that includes sun-protective clothing and accessories, proper sunscreen application, adequate hydration, and a keen awareness of the signs of heat-related illnesses, you can safeguard yourself and your loved ones against harmful UV radiation.
Don't forget the importance of post-event skin care, regular at-home skin checks, and professional skin examinations. These steps may seem burdensome amid the excitement and post-event exhaustion of a festival or sporting event, but they are your best defense against skin damage.
Above all else, create a strong sun protection policy for you and your family and stick to it.
SunDoctors are here to help: Your skin health professionals
If you're concerned about a mole or spot, or it's been a while since your last skin check, it's time to take action.
Find a SunDoctors Clinic near you, and book an appointment. We are committed to keeping our community safe from childhood to old age. We have the resources and facilities to keep you and your skin in the best possible condition.
Our skilled professionals are ready to help you with a comprehensive skin check, giving you peace of mind and ensuring that your next sun-filled outing is safe, carefree, and fun. Get in touch with us today!