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May 21, 2018

Anyone who has ever been to the snow knows that you can get sunburnt even when it’s really cold.  

Freezing even.  

But even so, when winter rolls around and the temperature starts to drop, even the most vigilant of parents can find themselves forgetting wintersun protection

We've all done it.

It’s easy to remember to protect your skin and eyes when the sun is at its hottest.  Not so easy when all you feel is…cold.

But beware, here is where the problem lies.

Winter Sun Protection Facts:

Temperature is NOT related to Solar UVR

The thing is, solar UVR is not related to the temperature.  You can’t feel it until it’s too late.

I'll explain.

Solar UVR is made up of three wavelengths – UVA, UVB and UVC.  Both UVA and UVB can reach the earth’s surface.  Both UVA and UVB can cause cancer, including cancer of the eye.  Solar UVR is also linked to cataracts (clouding of the eye) and pterygium (a growth on the white of the eye).

Cancer Council Australia lists the environmental factors that influence our cancer risk from solar UVR.  Some of these include:

  • high high the sun is in the sky
  • the thickness of the ozone layer
  • altitude
  • proximity to the equator
  • ground surface reflectivity

Ground surface reflectivity refers to being around highly reflective surfaces, like concrete, snow, glass, water and polished metals.  These surfaces increase surrounding levels of solar UVR.  An example of this?  Snow cover can increase UV levels by up to 90%!

While there is a difference between UV levels in winter and summer, the Bureau of Meterology explains that this is not due to the temperature, but to the angle of the sun in the sky.  

Solar UVR Damage in Winter

So there is more to take into account than the season when it comes to protecting our kids’ skin and eyes from solar UVR.  Solar UVR can still cause damage even in winter.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young states the facts about winter sun-safety:  “Although the temperature is dropping, your risk of skin cancer isn’t.”

Experts agree that sun protection should be used when the UV level index is 3 or higher, or when you are around highly reflective surfaces for a long period of time.  Even in the depths of winter, there are places in Australia where UV levels reach 11.  

This means that sun safety for, including wearing sunglasses (check our our durable range of kids sunglasses here), needs to become a daily habit, NOT just something we do on summer holidays.

SunSmart Australia has created a handy tool which shows UV levels for many different locations throughout Australia.  Just navigate to your location in the drop-down menu to see what the maximum UV level will be, and when sun protection is required.  Please note, sun safety is always recommended when outside for long periods of time, or when in the snow. 


Winter Sun-Safety – What You Need To Do

Australians are very well-informed about how to protect ourselves and our children from UV radiation exposure during summer.  Winter sun protection is really no different. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, slide on sunglasses for kids (polarised sunglasses if you are on the snow) and seek shade.  Keeping these winter sun protection guidelines in mind whenever you or your children are outside will ensure your family is sun-safe all year round.

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