Written by Rita Cabrita
We all know what Sweden is most known for. Or, let’s put it this way – we all know what Sweden is not known for: SUN!
But you might be surprised if I tell you that Sweden has one of the highest skin cancer incidence rates in the world. Quite contradictory, right?
This is due to the growth in the number of short getaways to sunny destinations at lower latitudes, but the main reason is still bad outdoor habits and mentality regarding how dangerous the sun can actually be.
Although sun is known for giving us the very much needed vitamin D, it can be harmful, if we over-use it and/or do not take preventable measures.
You might have noticed, since you arrived in Sweden, that as soon as there is a ray of sunshine, co-workers enjoy their lunch boxes under the sun, families and groups of friends go picnicking in the parks and people sunbathe in their balconies like sunflowers. And who can blame them? After so many months spent in the dark during winter, having a full day of sun is a true blessing.
But it is easy to get influenced by our surroundings, when we all want is to fit in and belong to our new home. You do not need to feel tempted to do that anymore. Let me give you a few simple tips on what you can do, in order not to skip that picnic in the park, or not to look bad next time your Swedish friend invites you for a barbecue under the sun at the worst time of the day. All you have to do is follow these simple precautions adopted by the Australian SunSmart® campaign: Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide!
Slip on clothing!
Clothing is our first line of defense against harmful UV rays.
Slop on sunscreen!
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF-30 before going outside and re-apply every two hours, especially after swimming or other outdoor activities. Do you sometimes wonder whether sunscreen really works? You will find the answer once you realize how the sun sees you.
Slap on a hat!
Hats are not only fashionable but they also provide good sun protection by creating shade around the face.
This is especially important between 10 am and 4 pm when the UV rays are the strongest. An umbrella or a tree might be very helpful to help you seek some shade. Nowadays, every weather forecast phone app tells you if the UV index is strong in your location, but a simple and maybe faster way of knowing it is by applying a simple shadow test: if your shadow is shorter than you, the UV rays are the strongest.
Slide on sunglasses!
UV radiation can be just as dangerous to the eyes as it is to the skin. Get a pair of sunglasses that block UV rays.
It sounds pretty easy, right? It is only up to us to stay healthy and safe.
Get the word out! Raise awareness among your friends and encourage them to take these simples measures, or maybe to read this blog post.
Grab your picnic basket or beach towel and enjoy the Summer!
About the Author
I am Rita, and I am from a country where you can taste the greatest custard pastry and enjoy great weather all year: Portugal. I moved to Sweden to do a Phd in Biomedical Sciences at Lund University, but I ended up falling in love and deciding to stay in this cold, but in its own way, so warm country.