Outdoor Safety

Sun Safety

Cancer Council Victoria recommends using SPF30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. However sunscreen alone will not provide adequate protection against overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Cancer Council recommends five steps to protect against sun damage during the daily sun protection times (when the UV level is 3 and above):
1. Slip on sun-protective clothing.
2. Slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen – make sure it is broad-spectrum and water-resistant. Put it on 20 minutes
before you go outdoors and re-apply every two hours.
3. Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears.
4. Seek shade.
5. Slide on sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.
UV levels are most intense during the middle of the day. Check the daily sun protection times, available:

The sun protection times show when the UV Index is forecast to be 3 or above.

What is SPF?
Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 4 and above are listed on the Australian Register of the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Products can only be listed on the register if they comply with the Australian/New Zealand Standard for sunscreen products (AS/NZS 2604:2012). The highest SPF for sunscreen available in Australia is SPF50+. The SPF number is only a guide to a sunscreen’s protection.
How long a person will take to burn depends on the time of day, time of year, amount of UV reflection, how cloudy it is and their skin type.
In laboratory conditions, when used as directed, SPF30 sunscreen filters 96.7% of UV radiation and SPF50 filters 98%. Both provide excellent protection if they are applied properly.


What should you be looking out for?

The red and yellow flags


The red and yellow flags show the supervised area of the beach and that a lifesaving service is operating.

Warning signs


Warning signs will highlight any potential hazards you should be looking out for.

The lifeguards and lifesavers

Lifeguards and lifesavers are person there to supervise you and provide advice on beach conditions. You should check to see what uniform your life saving service is wearing when you get to the beach so you know what to look for in an emergency.

To enjoy the beach safely, remember:



  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Stay calm. Don’t panic.
  • Raise an arm to attract attention if you feel you need help.
  • Do not try to swim against the current.

Strong Swimmers

  • If you are confident, swim parallel to the beach – often this is towards the sandbank or breaking waves which can assist you back to shore.

Weak Swimmers

Free SunSmart app

Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes wrinkles and skin and eye damage, ultimately leading to skin cancer.

UV cannot be seen or felt. It is not like the sun’s light which we see, or the sun’s warmth (infrared radiation) which we feel. Our senses cannot detect UV so it can be damaging without us knowing.

The free SunSmart app tells you when sun protection is recommended for your location using forecast information from the Bureau of Meteorology website and live UV data from ARPANSA.

Available on the App Store Android app on Google Play



  • Personalisation: Download the app and personalise it with your natural skin type, height, weight, age, gender and set your location for anywhere in Australia.
  • Reminders: Set up a sun protection alert and receive daily reminders for the times of day when UV reaches a level that can damage your skin and eyes, as well as two-hour reminders to re-apply sunscreen.
  • Sunscreen calculator: Use the sunscreen calculator to find out how much sunscreen you need to apply, taking account of your size and clothing.
  • Vitamin D tracker: Find out how much UV exposure you need for vitamin D.
  • Seven-day weather forecast: Check the weather for the week ahead for any location in Australia.

Source 1, 2

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