Summer has officially started in Australia. Many of us will take advantage of weekends and school holidays to spend time outdoors so here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe.
The sun is shining and the school holidays are fast approaching. Spending time outdoors is a great (and mostly free) way to enjoy Australia, as long as you stay safe.
Staying safe at the beach
Australia has over ten thousand beaches that are accessible for free.
While the number of drownings went down last year, they still made 249 victims. Always go to beaches that are patrolled, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer. Stay between the red and yellow flags, which is the area patrolled by lifeguards.
If you want to know which beaches are patrolled and what facilities are available there, download the Beachsafe app. Available in 72 languages, it gives information about every beach in Australia.
You should also remain vigilant at pools and around rivers, and consider learning CPR as it could help you save the life of a loved one.
Staying safe in national parks
Exploring a national park is another fun way to spend the holidays. Australia has over five hundred of them spreading across deserts, forests, mountains and water.
They offer many different activities like hiking, swimming and bird watching. Some parks charge entry, while others are free.
To have a good outing, you need to do a bit of research before going to the park.
“We're seeing a lot of people coming to our parks that aren't really prepared. They might have a little bit of information but they don't have proper maps or enough information,” says Tammy Schoo, Ranger Team Leader at Victoria’s Grampians National Park.
“I suggest that before a visit, you jump online, have a look at the park notes and get a bit of an understanding of what the park is about, what's the best time to visit and are there other issues that you might need to consider like are there remote areas, what are the roads like. Plan your visit so you know you'll have a safe and enjoyable time while you're there."
If you’re going for a walk or a hike, tell someone where you’re going and when you intend to be back. Stay on the track and bring water, food and warm clothes.
Staying safe in the sun
No matter if you're at the beach or on a mountain, if you're outdoors, you always have to think about the sun.
"Two out of three people in Australia will develop a skin cancer in their lifetime and of course, many people will develop more than one. And it's concerning because it's a largely preventable cancer. It doesn't discriminate. Although those skin cancers are more common in fairer skin people, they do occur in darker skin people and Indigenous Australians,” says Cancer Council CEO Sanchia Aranda.
During the summer, she recommends to go out when the UV index is lower, early in the morning and later in the evening.
If you need to go outside when the UV index is high, you should stay in the shade as much as possible, and wear a hat, protective clothing and sunscreen on exposed skin.
You should put on sunscreen of SPF30 or higher 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours (or more often if you're in the water or sweating).
"Choose a sunscreen that you like the feel of on your skin because you're more likely to use it if you enjoy the feel of it. So shop around, test out different ones, find the one that works for you. They're not all thick white greasy things anymore," says Aranda.
If you have family visiting from overseas this summer, make sure to share these tips with them so they can have a great time in Australia.