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Summer is a coming in - Be Prepared

Summer is a coming in - Be Prepared

According to MetService, it's not too early to be thinking about sun protection.

Officially, summer starts on 1 December, and it may not be ideal beach weather yet but we can't afford to get complacent says Chris Stephenson of MetService. As New Zealand moves closer to the summer season, Ultraviolet radiation over New Zealand is already reaching very high levels, especially in the North Island, he says.

This week is SunSmart Week (November 14 - 20) raising awareness of the risks of skin cancer caused by exposure to UV radiation. Each year nearly 300 people die from skin cancer. The latest mortality figures from 2000 registered 253 deaths from melanoma and 86 from other skin cancers. "It is important now to really start thinking about sun burn protection because, although the temperatures may not be that high, the UV level is pretty much over 6 every day from now on - and that means we are at risk of skin damage," says Mr Stephenson.

Following last year's introduction of the SunSmart UV Index by the Cancer Society and the Health Sponsorship Council, which measures the levels of UV radiation, there are now a number of ways to access this important safety information.

As well as UVI forecasts being published in the media, they are now available on the internet from SunSmart ( http://www.sunsmart.co.nz) and MetService ( http://www.metservice.co.nz). They can also be accessed free by mobile phone by texting UVI and sending to 88xx where xx is the area code. For example in Auckland text UVI to 8809. The latest UVI measurements around the region, updated hourly during the day, are then sent back to your cell phone as a text message.

The UV Index forecasts assume clear skies, and are based on forecast ozone values.

The scale of the UV Index goes up to 15 and information is included with forecasts to assist the public to obtain, understand and recognise the danger from sun radiation. Behaviour recommendations accompany the UV Index.

Background information: MetService's website also provides extended range forecasts for most major locations around the country to help you plan your outdoor activities. The range of forecasts include marine forecasts, tides, sun and moon times and also data describing current weather conditions. The days expected UV Index appears on each centre's forecast as well as other usual information such as pollen forecasts.

Skin Cancer in NZ: -Skin cancer is the commonest cancer in this country. -New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in theworld. -There are nearly 50,000 new skin cancers a year, including 1800 new cases of melanoma. -Almost 300 people die of skin cancer a year; most from melanoma

How to be SunSmart - slip, slop, slap and wrap SLIP into a shirt - and slip into some shade, especially between 11am and 4pm when the ultraviolet rays are most fierce.

SLOP on some sunscreen before going outdoors. - Put sunscreen on any skin not covered by clothes. - Choose a sunscreen that meets the Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS2604. - Use an SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen. Wipe it on thickly at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. - Reapply; do this 15 minutes after the first application to ensure complete coverage, and also after physical activity, swimming or towel drying. SLAP on a hat with a brim or a cap with flaps. More people get burned on the face and neck than any other part of the body, so a good hat is important.

WRAP on a pair of sunglasses. Choose close fitting, wrap-around glasses that meet the Australian Standard AS1067.

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