information about sun safety and being smart in the sun with Slip Slop Slap the article includes a story about children playing with shadows

How sun smart are you?

My home state of Queensland is the melanoma capital of the world. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer primarily caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays. If not detected and treated early, it can quickly spread and often cause fatalities. In Australia, it is the fourth most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, and over one thousand deaths result from melanoma each year.

When I was a child, we didn’t know of the dangers of the sun and spent hours in the sun playing to our heart’s content. Although it was painful, we thought nothing of going home after a day at the beach with our backs as red as a beetroot, knowing that in a couple of days our siblings would be peeling huge chunks of skin from our backs.

Nowadays, there is plenty of information about sun safety and an abundance of products for protection from the sun. We are educated about the dangers of too much sun in the media. In the 80s there was a “Slip! Slop! Slap!” promotion – to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.

The slogan was later updated to include Seek (shade) and Slide (on sunglasses).

We teach children in school about sun safety as part of our Health and Physical Education programs and insist they wear a hat in the playground through our “No hat No play” policies.

no hat no play is a rule employed by many school in Australia to ensure children are sun safe when playing at lunchtime

While the Cancer Council believes the campaign to have been very effective in changing behaviour and reducing the incidence of sun cancer, many are still not heeding the advice.

In fact, as soon as the days become warm (as if they ever aren’t in this Sunshine State), people are told, that it’s a great day for the beach or the pool. No one warns about staying in the shade in the hottest part of the day or covering up for sun protection.

When Bec was little, a friend watched me apply a generous amount of sunscreen to her exposed skin. The friend asked if I was concerned about Vitamin D and if sunscreen would prevent her getting her daily dose. I had not previously given it a thought and, being in the pre-internet days (would you believe there were days before the internet?) I asked who I thought to be the most reliable source of information — the pharmacist. He scoffed at me for entertaining such a ridiculous thought. How could anyone in Australia not get enough Vitamin D?

Many years later, Bec did suffer a deficiency of Vitamin D and was “prescribed” a short walk in the sun each day.

Having done more than sufficient damage to my skin in younger days, I now tend to be an indoors girl and avoid being outdoors in the heat, for which I have little tolerance and less interest. I apply sunscreen as part of my morning routine and wear a hat whenever I’m out and about for more than a few minutes. I seek the shade whenever possible and closely follow the recommendation to

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.

I’ve been thinking of the importance of sun safety and being sun smart in response to the flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week in which Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a silly sun story. Up north, “sun silly” is the energetic and playful response to returning sunlight. It could also be an April Fool’s jest, a silly story, or a reaction to spring fever. Be silly and write playfully! Go where the prompt leads.

a photograph of a glorious spring day in Queensland with clear blue skies and wattle in bloom

In Queensland, we tend to have sun all year round. Our mid-winter June days are often glorious with the most amazing blue skies. It may be cool indoors but always warm in the sun.

In my last teaching position, my classroom opened onto a grassy area and, particularly on the cooler days, we could pop out for a few minutes to warm up in the sun between lessons. Sometimes the children had fun trying to catch their shadows.

I turned to fun with shadow play for my story. I hope you like it.

Running in the Sunshine, Dancing in Shadows

Dad was working and didn’t look up.

“Can we play outside?” the children asked.

“It’s very hot,” said Dad. “Wait until it cools down.”

“We’ll stay in the shade.”

“We’ve got sunscreen on.”

“I’ve got my hat.”

“And sunglasses.”

“There won’t be much shade,” said Dad.

“There is a little bit.”

“Can we?”

The deadline loomed.

“Well, stay in the shade,” he conceded.

When finished, Dad sought the children.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Dancing in each other’s shadows,” they laughed.

“But you’re in the sun.”

“We have to be. We don’t have shadows without the sun, silly.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

58 thoughts on “How sun smart are you?

  1. Mabel Kwong

    This was such an educational read, and your prose at the end solidified the message how prolonged exposure to direct sunlight does more harm to us than good. Really like that initiative in schools, No Hat No Play, but sad to hear that the message can go unheaded. Sometimes warmth from the sun makes the sun feel alive. That’s how I feel, and I love summer and heat. Maybe living in Asia has thought me to withstand temperatures of 35’C and more and loving it. However, I burn easily and definitely do not want to stand outside right under the sun when it is this hot. Like you, I prefer staying in the shade – and also enjoy the heat with a cool drink or ice-cream.

    Maybe our melanoma rate is sky high because of the lack of ozone layer over us, or it could be due to our skin type. I actually never head much about melanoma until I moved back from Asia many years ago. I do try to put on sunscreen where possible in the summer (though I heard it is best to put it on all year round) but unfortunately most sunscreens don’t sit well on my skin and are hard to scrub off :/

    On the subject of Vitamin D: that is a vitamin I lack and have been prescribed vitamins to get these levels going in my body. And I’m very much the sun lover 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      The sun makes you feel alive – what a great feeling, and as it should be, Mabel, since all energy comes from the sun. Sometimes too much of it saps my energy though, but we’d have none without it. It is good to cool down with drinks and ice cream on hot days, but shade is even better.
      I do apply sunscreen every day. I have one which rubs in nicely and works as a moisturiser as well. What I don’t like about the sunscreens is the way they stain my clothes. After a season or two of wear, it can be quite unsightly as it doesn’t scrub out.
      That’s interesting what you say about Vitamin D. I thought as a sun lover you wouldn’t have a problem. There’s more to all these things than we always understand.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Mabel.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Mabel Kwong

        So true that from a scientific perspective, all energy comes from the sun…and so does light 🙂 That is interesting to hear that sunscreens can stain clothes. Hopefully you find a way at some point to scrub it all out.

        I think some of us don’t absorb Vitamin D, and it’s just the way our bodies are. Such an interesting topic of discussion. Really enjoyed it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for joining in and sharing your experiences, Mabel. I’m pleased you enjoyed the topic. Science can tell us a lot, but it can’t tell us everything. I guess that’s the quest, isn’t it?

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  2. Hugh's Views and News

    I can remember getting sunburnt so often as a child and again in my early 20s when it wasn’t ‘cool’ to wear sun protection. Now, I rarely go out in the sun during the summer when it’s too hot as my skin burns with the slightest bit of sunlight on it. Too much heat also makes me very grumpy. It’s one of the reasons why I also live on the coast as we usually get cooling sea breezes when inland it’s baking hot.
    I’ve always been a fan of winter.
    A great piece of flash, Norah. Catching shadows is something I think we should all do.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased to hear you’ve learned to be safe in the sun, Hugh. Also like that you love your winters. It’s so nice to hear somebody likes the cold. Sea breezes can be a real pleasure on hot summer days.
      Thanks for your kind words about my flash.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Loved your flash Norah. It made me smile. We knew nothing about sun protection when I was growing up (like you) and I was lucky to have inherited an olive skin that never burnt or peeled. As they say that skin cancers are laid down when children I have been religious about my melanoma checks. Touch wood nothing has ever been found but poor Roger, an Englishman until into his twenties has had numerous bits and pieces cut from him. I think the moral is use protection. It is just routine for me to put on sunscreen every day and has been since probably my thirties.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      You are so lucky to have olive skin, Irene. Mine is very fair. I don’t even have to go into the sun to go red. I’m always red. Those annual skin checks are very important. I’m sorry to hear about Roger’s cuts. I’ve been going every year since I was about 28. Every year I have hundreds of sun spots frozen and now I seem to need two or three, or more, cut each year too. It’s not much fun, but at least they are caught early. Like you, I have applied sunscreen every day since I was in my twenties, even when it’s overcast and wintery and I don’t think I’ll be outdoors at all. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. macjam47

    Norah, I loved your 99 words. The sun protection videos have a catchy tune and phrase. Just what children will stop and watch. I’ve always used sunscreen, but the sunscreen I used as a child, I now know were practically worthless, as were the SPF 2, 4, and 6 that were available when my children were young. But at least by insisting they apply it before going out in the sun, they were creating what is now a life-long habit for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Michelle. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. I think that life-long habit of applying sunscreen is going to be good for the younger generation, particularly now that most of the nasties have been removed from them.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Christy B

    I am a melanoma survivor and know it’s nothing to scoff at. Education is integral to being healthy in the sun! Thanks for this post and I’ll share across social media today, Norah xx

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you’re a survivor, but sorry to hear that you had a melanoma, Christy. I would have thought you to be safe at your young age and in your location. I guess it can strike any time. One of my nieces had a melanoma removed when she was only thirty, and siblings had sun cancers removed even younger that than. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

      Reply
  6. Steven

    I can’t say that I distinctly remember them, but I do remember being beetrooted a few times in my youth. Fortunately the subsequent sunburn eventually gives you an aversion to the experience, and rarely have I been moderately burnt in adulthood (with only the occasional mild burning due to unexpected outings).

    In fact, I would say that I have even unintentionally trained myself to recognise it, for I can sometimes detect the effects after only minutes of direct exposure and can take action – well before others in the family (or at least I think so anyway).

    I can say that it is fortunate and most telling that my kids have had neither the quantity nor degree of sunburn that I would have had in my youth. I wouldn’t say that it is part of the school curriculum, but it is taught as a school value or belief. Because of this, perhaps my kids won’t go through what I might go through in the next few decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you, and your children, are so conscious of the dangers of too much sun, Steven. You’re right. I think an experience or two and we soon learned. It is much easier for children now with so much information and so many options available. Applying sunscreen just becomes part of the daily routine.

      Like

      Reply
  7. Jennifer Delagarza

    The sun’s ultraviolet(UV)rays can damage our skuin in as little as 15 minutes. Follow these recommendations to help protect yourself and your family. Shade. You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. weejars

    Valuable message and great flash. I am with you Norah. After spending so much uncovered time in the sun as a young-en I am a shade/indoor gal now!! That and having seven moles cut out was enough to teach me! Annual skin checks for those of us who are high risk.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Oh dear! Seven moles. They can be quite risky. I don’t have many moles fortunately, but still need an annual skin check with my fair skin. I hope you are fine with yours.

      Like

      Reply
  9. Charli Mills

    What a strange phenomenon that after centuries of covering up the skin with long sleeves, skirts or pants and wearing bonnets or hats outside that we would become so sun silly as to increase a deadly cancer. And I have heard that sunscreens block vitamin D. Living up north, I take it as a supplement. Like you, I’ve had my skin fried, not at the beach, though. I baked under the sun after hours in the saddle. Most times I did wear a hat. Your flash captures the creativity of children minding their father but in a different way than he intended! The slip, slop, slap bird is amusing and the ditty infectious as I’m sure it was meant to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It is strange, isn’t it, and female fashions are about as unsafe in the sun as anything could be. Fortunately, rashies are quite popular here now and people are more inclined to wear them. Long hours in the saddle or doing ranch work would be hard on the skin. Many of my relatives worked cattle or sheep on properties (which we call ranches here) and suffered badly from the sun. Interestingly enough, none of those ones suffered skin cancer, but two others who didn’t work outdoors died from skin cancer, both on the scalp. They must not have worn hats. I’m always amazed, and grateful, at how thorough the dermatologist is each year when I have my check up. Fortunately nothing serious so far. 🙂
      I’m pleased the flash worked and that you enjoyed the songs. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Charli Mills

        Come to think of it, I’m not aware of any buckaroos I know who got skin cancer, but they always wore long-sleeved western shirts, jeans, and straw cowboy hats. I wore a hat and jeans but frequently rolled up my sleeves.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  10. dgkaye

    Entertaining use of the word prompt Norah. And I was glad to hear that even the little ones are getting informed on the dangers of the sun. I love the sun and thrive when it’s sunny. When I was younger I was a bad sun freak and now I still look forward to our winter getaways to be in the sun, only I’m constantly re-applying sunscreen in high numbers, I never go without a hat or sunglasses firmly planted on my face always. Are you kidding me? I spend enough money on wrinkle creams I’m not subjecting my eyes to sun LOL. 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased to hear you are being sun safe, Debby. I think if I lived in a cooler climate, I’d look forward to the warmth too. I always say that nine months of our year are perfect. The three months of summer, which seems to be extending now, are the least pleasant. My fair skin is totally unsuited to this climate though so hats, sunscreen and sunglasses all the way. The only sensible thing that I’d can’t abide in summer is long sleeves. However, when I was on playground duty at school, I used to wear a large hat, a special protective coat and gloves, as well as sunglasses, even in summer! The admin soon got the message and gave me first aid duty, which was indoors, most lunchtimes. I was very grateful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. dgkaye

        Wow, well good for you for being proactive. And that reminds me about while I was away and when Easter weekend was approaching, the Mexicans came out to the beach to celebrate. I was amazed to see how many children were swimming with long sleeve shirts made for swimming. It was interesting to see that even the people who live in that hot climate with their darker skin, take such proactive measures. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  11. Tina Frisco

    What a delightful little story, Norah. Sometimes kids rationalize themselves right out of common sense 🙂 I will have to pass on Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide to my nieces and nephews. They’ll get a kick out of it, but they will remember ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  12. robbiesinspiration

    I know this feeling. Children wanting to go out and swim/play in the harsh sun. I also worry about skin cancer and lather my boys in sun cream. They still get a bit burned sometimes especially at school which drives me nuts. Lovely story.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It is difficult to monitor the children’s sun protection when they are away from home. It drives me nuts, too, when I see my children (now adults) sun burned and I think they should know better. Fortunately it is rare. At least they had a much better start than I had. I’d already had sun spots removed by the time I was their age.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          Our skin doesn’t suit the climate we’re in, Robbie. You may have been better in the UK. My dad was always told to move us to Tasmania, but he never did. It would have been difficult to move away from home, and the expense prohibitive also.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  13. Jules

    The wisdom of children in creating their own shade…
    I remember being a beet root red once – we were in Florida in winter visiting family. Everyone else was sleeping and I opted to play shuffleboard by myself… I couldn’t move for days and vowed to never let that happen again. Maybe that’s why I have so many trees shading my back yard?
    We do not have such warnings about the sun here. Though most seem to be more careful when going to more open ground or to the shore, beach or pool. The sun is out all the time. And we do need to be careful.
    I like breathing cooler air, but my body likes it warmer. I guess I’m good to go even if I don’t have a ‘tan’ – I don’t see a reason for tanning booths or fake tans either. I saw a woman the other day who did not look at all natural in color. I do not want to ever look like that.

    Stay protected and healthy! (I’ll now be remembering to wear my hat while I garden! Hugs, Jules

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Oh, Jules. It is no fun being burned that severely. Sun stroke is often associated, and not much fun either. Maybe it is why you have shade trees in your yard, and maybe why I like a jungle garden. 🙂 I have very fair skin that could never tan and would look ridiculous with a fake tan. I’d rather not have the splotchy skin I have though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Jules

        Folks with curly hair what to straighten it, those with thin straight hair want thick curls. If we listened to all the commercials we would all look and act the same.

        But splotchy skin might be a health ailment that you could have looked at?

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          My splotchy skin is not a health ailment. It’s just very fair skin that “tans” irregularly (freckles), and I would have changed it for me and my children, and their children, if I could have. Maybe one day they’ll have the answer. For now it’s just sun protection for all.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
          1. Jules

            I once heard it said that Freckles were angel kisses…
            (but yes I too have fair skin and have to be very careful. I once got a fungus because I used some lotion in the sun… no pain, but really icky looking.)

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Yes, even if there’s a drought going on in the summer and relentless heat and sun, the radio people will always have the sun sillies and say what a great beach day it is. Even with skin cancer so common it is an ingrained mindset.
    Great flash. Very real.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  15. Annecdotist

    We also get some gorgeous sunny days in the winter, although ours tend to be bitterly cold. But this year has been very wet and cloudy so it’s very tempting to bask in the sun when it does come. It’s dreadful look back on how acceptable sunburn used to be, now the sight of it on others makes me wince and I hate to see little children with their skin exposed to the sun, not knowing whether or not they’ve got protection. But we’ve also had cases of rickets here in the UK too.
    I like your flash. It’s light and playful (like the children) until that last line that says so much.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Anne. I’m pleased you enjoyed my lighthearted playful flash. It’s a change from some of my darker ones of late. It is dreadful to think how naive and blase we were about sunburn. Fortunately times have changed. There is really no reason for anyone to get sunburned now. But they still do. I guess it’s like smoking and drink driving. “I’ll be okay.” Rickets wouldn’t be much fun either.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.