Keep cool on the slopes with SunSmart

Monday 7 July, 2014

The snow is here, but are you prepared for it?

SunSmart is reminding people that it’s just as important to use sun protection while you’re at the snow, as it is when you’re headed to the beach in summer.

“It’s the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays – not heat – that cause sunburn, skin and eye damage that can lead to skin cancer,” SunSmart Manager Sue Heward said.

“You can’t see or feel UV rays, but when they reach an index level of three and above they can cause damage regardless of a cool or cloudy day.”

At snowfields UV radiation increases 20-30 per cent with every 1000 metre increase in altitude. The mountain air is also cleaner than in more populated areas, which allows for greater UV penetration. The last important factor is that snow itself is highly reflective. On a sunny day, clean fresh snow can reflect almost 90 per cent of UV radiation.

“Alpine visitors are often unaware of this double whammy that is the double dose of UV directly from the sun and reflected off the snow,” Ms Heward said. “That’s why it’s so important for people to use a combination of sun protection measures.”

To avoid snow burn, SunSmart recommends slopping on SPF30+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen and carrying a tube on the slopes for reapplication every two hours. Choose a balaclava, hood or beanie that protects your face, head, neck and ears, as well as goggles or wrap-around sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort CEO Stuart Ord is also urging visitors to ski SunSmart. At 1567 metres, Mt Baw Baw has at least 30 per cent more UV than there is at sea level, due to altitude alone.

“Packing sunscreen is as important as packing your ski pass,” Mr Ord said. “A great trip to the snow should leave you with fun memories – not sunburn.”

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