Time to get Sun Smart in Sandwell and West Birmingham

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A scorching Bank Holiday weekend has sparked calls from health experts to take care while enjoying the sunny weather. The message comes as Sun Awareness Week gets underway on Monday, May 14 until May 20.

NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group is reminding people of the importance of sun safety, and encouraging everyone to stay safe in the sun as temperatures increase.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, and rates continue to rise. The disease kills over 2,500 people each year in the UK - that's seven people every day.*

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. This may be long term exposure, or short periods of intense sun exposure and burning. The ultraviolet light in sunlight damages the DNA in the skin cells. This damage can happen years before a cancer develops.

Rates of skin cancer are increasing faster than any other cancer in the UK, with figures doubling every 10 to 20 years.** More people die from skin cancer in the UK than in Australia. Melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer, is now one of the most common cancers in young adults aged 15 to 34 in the UK.

Anyone wanting to stay safe in the sun can do so by following a few simple tips:

• First and foremost, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration in hot weather.

• Apply sunscreen with a Factor of at least 15 and preferably higher.

• Use sunscreen to protect babies and children and ensure that they have plenty of fluids when outside in the open air.

• Make sure children do not become overheated or dehydrated when indoors.

• Avoid sunbathing in the hottest times of the day, which are usually between 11.00am and 3.00pm.

• If travelling by car, take supplies of drinking water for the journey and ensure that children do not become overheated.

• Never leave children or pets in cars that are parked in the sun.

• Wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothes, preferably cotton.

• Use sun glasses that offer 100 UV Protection for your eyes.

Dr Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:

"While it is very healthy for people to spend some time in sunlight every day to keep vitamin-D levels topped up and bones strong, it’s important that everyone stays safe in the sun. By being careful we can easily avoid the risks of sunburn and heatstroke and potential long-term consequences of over-exposure, such as skin cancer.

"Babies and young children are much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun’s rays as they have delicate, thinner skin, so be sure to protect them by keeping them out of direct sunlight, applying factor 15+ sunscreen to their skin and putting on sunhats to shield their faces from burns.

"By altering your sunbathing habits and covering up vulnerable skin in the midday sun, you can enjoy the sun more safely."

You can watch an NHS video on how to be sun smart by clicking here

For more information about skin cancer click here