Cancer Council ACT does not generally recommend sun protection behaviour (ie hat wearing and sunscreen application) when UV levels are under 3 due to the low risk associated with skin damage at this level. In Canberra, UV levels drop and remain under 3 (low) all day, each day, around the June and July period and so the End of May is Hats Off Day for Canberra primary schools and early childhood services. This may assist Canberra children with their winter Vitamin D requirements.
Why Hats Off Day?
Being SunSmart is all about being smart when in the sun, this includes having an understanding around the balance between UV exposure, sun protection and vitamin D.
During the summer period, maintaining vitamin D levels should be relatively easy for students (and workers) who are active and spend time outdoors most days of the week, even with sensible sun protection. The body should be able to store your summer vitamin D levels over the winter period, however by leaving your hat off and sunscreen at home and getting some "winter" sun exposure to your skin you can assist your body in maintaining adequate vitamin D levels during the colder months in Canberra.
In winter, by exposing some skin (more the better) most days of the week during the lunchtime period (the middle of the day is best because UVB will be present), Canberrans should be able to maintain their vitamin D levels. Of course there will be groups in the population that are at higher risk of having vitamin D deficiency. To read more about vitamin D click here.
Cancer Council ACT has numerous free SunSmart resources to assist ACT childcare services and schools maintain a positive and balanced approach to being SunSmart including the SunSmart Web Widget for websites and our popular Generation SunSmart Professional Learning modules for Canberra early childcare educators and teachers to take advantage of.
So keep warm this winter, get active every day and take full advantage of the winter sun for vitamin D. And remember the beginning of August is Hats On again for all of us.