Sun Protection

Nara is a Sunsmart centre.

The SunSmart Early Childhood Program was set up by the state based Cancer Councils to help child care providers devise and implement sun safe policies

Although our senses can easily detect sunlight and infrared radiation (heat), they cannot detect the level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.  UV radiation can’t be seen or felt and can be damaging to our skin on cool, cloudy days as well as hot, sunny ones.  Whenever UV radiation index levels reach 3 (moderate) and above, sun protection is required.  At that level UV radiation is intense enough to damage our skin and contribute to the risk of skin cancer.

In Victoria from September to April, the UV radiation index levels are 3 and above for most of the day. Particular care should be taken between 10 am and 2 pm (11 am and 3 pm daylight saving time) when UV levels reach their peak.

From May to August, the UV radiation index levels in Victoria are usually low (below 3). Therefore sun protection measures are not necessary during these months unless you are in alpine regions, or near highly reflective surfaces like snow or water. 

UV and Vitamin D

Some UV radiation exposure is important for a child’s vitamin D production.  Vitamin D is necessary for bone, joint, muscle and neurological function and is produced in the skin by exposure to UV radiation. Low levels are also present in some foods.

A balance is required between avoiding an increase in a child’s risk of skin cancer and achieving enough UV radiation exposure to maintain their vitamin D levels.

During peak UV months In Victoria (from September to April), children usually receive enough sun for Vitamin D production from incidental sun exposure during their day-to-day activities, even if they are adopting recommended SunSmart behaviour. Five minutes of sun exposure in the morning and another five minutes in the late afternoon on most days of the week is generally all that is required.  Extra care should always be taken during the middle of the day when UV Index levels reach their peak.  Children with dark skin may need slightly longer periods of sun exposure, about 5 minutes more in the morning and again in the afternoon.

From May until August UV Index levels in Victoria reach below 3 (low). Generally the lower UV Index levels are not intense enough to damage the skin.

When UV Index levels are low, children need greater exposure time to maintain vitamin D stores. Asking children to follow sun protection throughout the entire year in Victoria is not necessary and may lead to other health concerns for them.

So to make sure children are well protected from UV radiation when it is strong enough to damage the skin think:

1st September, 5 things to remember!  (The Outside 5: Shade, Sun Proctective Clothing, Hats, Sunglasses, Suncreen)

And to get enough vitamin D when UV radiation levels are low and sun protection isn’t necessary think:

1st May, hats off day!