You know how there are places on your bucket list that you want to see? Australia is on mine. Even before melanoma, I knew that I would need to be extremely careful in the Australian sun.
Australia is known for the highest rates of melanoma and they are also known as being way ahead of the United States in terms of sun safety. That's why when I received an email from Fiona at http://truebluemigration.com/, I knew I wanted her to take over my blog for the day. We have a lot to learn here in the States! Read on... (And be sure to check out their infographic. It's SO good.)
Australia’s Biggest Killer
The land down under is kind of infamous for its menagerie of venomous creatures. We hear horror stories of giant jellyfish. We see gruesome images of lightning-fast snakes, and fear bathroom-dwelling black widow spiders.
Yet despite this cornucopia of poisonous fangs and stingers, there is one killer in the Land of Oz that trumps them all. It’s often invisible to those who don’t know how to find it, and can attack people before they’re even aware that it’s there.
That killer is skin cancer.
Some Like it Hot
Australia is a pretty sunny place. If it seems like an obvious statement, that’s because it is, and if you’re planning your vacation there, it’s probably one of the main selling points.
As this handy infographic shows, average number of sunshine hours every year is 3,200, consistently reaching some staggering temperatures. On the southern coast of Australia, the average temperature in cities like Sydney and Melbourne weighs in at a balmy 26ºC (79ºF).
Further inland, however, these temperatures can climb all the way up to the Australian record of 50.7ºC - that’s 123ºF - a temperature that ravaged Alice Springs back in January 1960.
With such a scorching climate, you would assume that residents would have the common sense to apply a healthy coating or two of sunscreen, right?
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Doctors in Australia have more than one million patient consultations for skin cancers every single year. In fact, skin cancer accounts for 80 percent of new cancer cases in the country.
The collective quantity of incidences of cancers like Bowen’s disease, carcinomata and melanoma shows that the country has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. In 2011, over 2,000 people tragically died from skin cancer in Australia, most of which were preventable.
And the primary culprit? The sun. Up to 99 percent of all skin cancer cases are caused by exposure to the sun.
But, in the words of The Jackson 5, “don’t blame it on the sunshine”. You can - and should - enjoy the glorious weather of the South Pacific if you can, as long as you take the appropriate measures before doing so.
How You Can Stay Safe
So many people make a big deal out of the “effort” they have to make to stay safe in the sun. But it’s easy. Just remember these three important things:
Sunscreen - be sure to apply one ounce of high SPF sunscreen every time you apply, which should be three or four times a day in the summer.
Stay hydrated - and no, dipping in the pool doesn’t count. Drink plenty of water to stop your body and skin drying out, which could otherwise increase your risk of sunburn.
Get out of the sun every now and then - no matter how much water you drink and how much sunscreen you douse yourself in, you’ll still burn if you’re in the sun too long. If your skin feels hot, go inside until it cools down. If you’re at the beach, pack a hat or umbrella; statistics show that a wide-brimmed hat can reduce UV radiation exposure by 50 percent.
Staying safe in the sun does not ruin holidays; it makes them. If you’re protected and sensible, you and your family can enjoy Australia’s gorgeous weather care-free.
Thank you, Fiona, for educating us all. I hope to use these tips in mind when I get to cross Visiting Australia off of my non-existent bucket list! Until then, I know I can follow them here! Be sure to view their Infographic and share it: http://blog.truebluemigration.com/cope-australian-sun-infographic/