I was blissfully unaware of the UV index before my wife made me cluey about it. Yes, it did take me by surprise after putting sunscreen on in the morning to then be lying in bed trying not to move in fear of my red, burnt skin stinging as it brushes across the sheets, wondering why my body was still warm after the setting sun had already cooled the atmosphere.
But now it almost feels like a sense of achievement as I am still feeling quite refreshed during dusk after being outside enjoying ourselves for the day while being SunSmart.
Now after a few clicks I know the time of day I need sun protection. bom.gov.au tells me I need to be smart between 7:50 and 4:10. What? Really? Sure; on the Gold Coast a UV alert is issued when the UV Index is forecasted to be 3 or above! And at midday it is forecasted to be 3 points above extreme. Even if you're in Tasmania you have to be SunSmart between 9.20 and 5.30!
What about winter, I ask my wife? During winter there is still a moderate warning for Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth. But lucky Melbournians don't need sun protection.
Australia Day a week ago was cloudy with a cool breeze. Not much need for sun protection as it seemed, except for a fashionable Australia flag umbrella hat! Walking to the local Australia Day festivities I feel like the odd one out wearing my wide brim straw hat holding my daughter in her floral wide brim hat and wife alongside in her white wide brim flower hat.
With a simple survey I estimate I am part of the 20% to wear a type of hat. My daughter's solution to hat wearing was to streak her hair with bright green zinc "Now I don't need to wear a hat daddy!"
We haven't even reached the parklands yet but we have exerted enough energy to call it a day. 3 minutes ago we were on the side of the street slapping on sunscreen. It is arduous enough putting it on ourselves. But trying to put it on our daughter is a mission. The little thing just needs to get up and hop away; "I think I am all done daddy!" "OK, I'm ready to go now!" "Yep, Yep, Yep, that's all" "Yes, I have already got sunblock on."
'5 ways to protect yourself'. Yep, that's right, now there is 5 – a lot different than what I ever practised growing up. Slip, slop, slap, seek (shade) and slide (on wrap-around sunglasses.
Dr Oz told me that you have to put so much sunscreen on that it makes your body white, and then it soaks in. Before gaining the responsibility of a little person I thought sun protection was just for preventing those blisters, the peeling skin, the heat under your skin that even a cold shower doesn't relieve, and the sting of clothes rubbing on that red glowing skin.
It was me who was caught dosing on the private back balcony reclined on an aging cane chair, shorts pulled up, shirt off, the white insides of my arms pointing to the sky all in the effort to get an oh so cool tan.
I look back on myself and wonder as I shake my head why did I need that tan when it would fade in a few weeks and I have the chance of skin cancer for the rest of my life.
Daniel Stott is a primary school teacher on the Gold Coast and is Bible College trained.
Daniel Stott's previous articles may be viewed www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-stott.html