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Sunsmart warning as daylight saving starts

New Zealanders are warned not to underestimate the power of the sun as they use their extra time outside following the start of daylight saving today.

The extra hour of daylight in the evenings runs until Sunday, April 3.

Despite distinctly unsummery temperatures, ultraviolet radiation (UVR) levels are already rising, said Wayde Beckman of SunSmart.

“After a long, cold and pretty wet winter it’s tempting, with the start of daylight saving, to get out and spend more time in the sun.

“But spring can be deceptive, with temperatures still quite low in some places, but UVR levels are already high enough to cause sunburn if we don’t take care,” Mr Beckman said.

The sun’s heat is not the cause of sunburn, but UVR — which is at its highest between September and April, particularly between 11am and 4pm.

Sunburn is linked to melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, which kills about 350 New Zealanders a year.

“Never get sunburnt, and remember that there’s no such thing as a ‘safe tan’ – any change in skin colour is a sign that damage has taken place,” Mr Beckman said.

The ultraviolet index (UVI), which measures UVR levels, is already above three for much of the day in many parts of the country, meaning people should protect themselves by covering up, putting on sunscreen and wearing sunglasses,

The Antarctic ozone hole did not appear to be particularly large this spring, but there may still be periods of extreme UVI when it breaks up in early summer, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research principal radiation scientist Richard McKenzie said.


Homepage image: Debbie Zillwood


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