What is the Ultraviolet (UV) Index and the SunSmart UV Alert?
UV radiation from the sun is the cause of almost all skin cancers. The simplest way to reduce your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers is to use sun protection when the sun's rays are strong enough to damage your skin.
Unfortunately you can't see or feel UV radiation so it can be difficult to know when you need to use sun protection. Not only is UV radiation present every day (even on cold days) but UV levels change according to a number of factors. These include:
- time of year
- time of day
- geographical location
- cloud cover.
The SunSmart UV Alert is a useful tool that identifies:
- The hours of each day when the UV Index will be 3 or above - that is high enough to cause permanent damage to most skin types.
- The maximum UV forecast for the day.
The SunSmart UV Alert uses the UV Index to demonstrate how UV levels rise and drop throughout the day.
The UV Index:
- Divides UV radiation levels into: low (1-2), moderate (3-5), high (6-7), very high (8-10) and extreme (11 and above).
- Is often presented in the shape of a bell curve to show how UV radiation levels change throughout the day - lower in the morning, highest in the middle part of the day and gradually dropping again throughout the afternoon.
How to read the SunSmart UV Alert
In the example below the SunSmart UV Alert sun protection times are from 9am to 3.20pm. This means that between these times UV levels will be 3 and above - strong enough to cause permanent damage to most skin types - and sun protection should be used.
UV levels vary across different parts of NSW. Even on the same day UV levels will be higher in some parts of NSW than in others.
You can check the SunSmart UV Alert daily on www.cancercouncil.com.au/sunsmartuvalert, in most local newspapers or by googling the free SunSmart App for smartphones. You can also add the UV Alert to your widget to your website.