Heat and sun safety

Heat related illness

Skin cancer

Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. More than 3,200 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year—of these people, 360 will die from the disease.

The major cause of skin cancer is too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In Queensland the UV Index is high enough all year round to cause skin damage which can lead to the development of skin cancer. You can check the predicted UV Index for you location and times of the day that sun protection is required. The good news is that the majority of cases of skin cancer are preventable if sun protection methods are used every day.  So remember to protect yourself in five ways whenever you are outside.

  • wearing a broadbrim or bucket style hat that covers the head, neck and ears
  • wearing sun-protective clothing and close-fitting sunglasses
  • using an SPF30+  or higher broadspectrum sunscreen and reapplying it regularly
  • staying in the shade where possible
  • not using solariums.

Read more about skin cancer prevention and protection on the Cancer Council Queensland website.

Heat-related illness

Queensland's warm climate and high humidity can often lead to heat wave conditions. People at risk of the effects of a heat wave are:

  • babies and children under 4
  • older people
  • those with chronic illness
  • people who are overweight
  • people undertaking vigorous exercise
  • people working in hot environments.

Heat-related illness occurs when the body is unable to cool itself adequately. This can cause different effects—from a heat rash or cramps through to heat exhaustion or potentially fatal heat stroke.

Read more about heat-related illness.

Working in the sun and heat safely

People who work outdoors risk developing skin cancer, other skin disorders, eye damage, heat stress and heat-related illness. You can minimise the risk by following the tips below.

Tips for people working in the sun

  • Use sun protection—hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing
  • Drink at least 1 litre of cool water each hour when working in the sun
  • Take breaks during the day in cool, shaded areas to bring your core temperature back to normal
  • Acclimatise to outdoor work gradually
  • Eat during the day to maintain energy and salt levels
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and drugs that can increase fluid loss.

Read more about safety when working in the sun and heat.

Hot cars

Never leave children or pets alone in a hot car. On a typical Australian summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can be as much as 30 to 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature.