We hear a lot of UV rays but what actually are they? UV stands for ultraviolet radiation. UV rays are a type of energy produced by the sun which is outside the wavelength of energies that we can see – similar to radio waves, x-ray waves or infrared waves which we are also unable to visualise.
You’re unable to see or feel the sun’s UV radiation which reaches your skin directly and is the primary cause of skin cancer. Even if it feels like you’re hot and getting burnt, UV cannot be felt and isn’t connected temperature. UV can sometimes be at its worst on overcast days. Sometimes these UV rays can be reflected off surfaces, which is why its important to wear at the snow or on a boat as the UV rays can reflect of the surface of the snow or water and give you a nasty sunburn.
Australia is notorious for having high UV levels due to our location, the axis tilt of the earth bringing us closer to the sun in summer and having clear skies with little pollution. UV levels are considered damaging and dangerous when they exceed an index level of 3. If UV is 3 or higher it is important to take sun protection measures including applying sunscreen, wearing a hat and sunglasses. The UV index can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology website for your area, which will have recommendations for sun protection dependent on this level.