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Every year, around the start of the year, the earth reaches its perihelionits closest point to the sun for the year – and this year the perihelion falls on Wednesday, 2 January. at 05:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

The day when the earth passes closest to the sun is called the perihelion after the ancient Greek ‘περί’ or ‘peri’ (near / around) and ‘helios’ (the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology).

Whether it's clear or cloudy, the need to protect yourself against the sun's harmful UV radiation is more critical than ever.(© All Rights Reserved)

Whether it’s clear or cloudy, the need to protect yourself against the sun’s harmful UV radiation is more critical than ever.
(© All Rights Reserved)

I guess, with the sun passing at its closest, and with it being smack in the middle of summer here in the southern hemisphere, it makes even more sense than usual to be ‘sunsmart’.

With the sun beating down, and skin cancer being more prevalent than ever, the message is to ‘slip, slop, slap and wrap’. To quote the website of the Sunsmart campaign:

  • SLIP into a long-sleeved shirt and into the shade. Generally, fabrics with a tighter weave and darker colours will give you greater protection from the sun. There are also certain fabrics on the market that have a SPF rating.
  • SLOP on plenty of broad-spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. Read more about using sunscreen.
  • SLAP on a hat with a wide-brim or a cap with flaps – more people get sunburned on their face and neck than any other part of the body.
  • WRAP on a pair of wrap-around sunglasses – UV radiation is just as dangerous to eyesight as it is for the skin.’

To my northern hemisphere friends – remember the sun is not only dangerous in summer; a day out in the winter sun requires all the same precautions needed in summer.

So let this day of the perihelion serve as a reminder to be sunsmart – be responsible, but don’t let that detract from the joys of an active day in the sun. Enjoy it, wherever you are!

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