Shade is one of the key components of being SunSmart, and decreasing the risk of getting skin cancer.

shade sail

In the 'Slip, slop, slap, wrap' message it is suggested you 'slip' into shade as much as possible to protect from high summer ultraviolet radiation (UVR) levels. This is especially important when the ultraviolet index (UVI) is VERY HIGH, at 8 or above.

This tends to be during Terms 1 and 4 at the very time school students are lunching, or enjoying outdoor activities such as sport and outdoor classroom activities.

Why shade is needed?

Research confirms that clothing, hats and sunscreen are not 100% effective because of inadequacies in the shading of hats and clothing and in applying sunscreen. Shade can compensate, and can also make more comfortable environments in creating shelter, reducing glare and/or providing relief from the heat of the sun.

How much shade is needed?

The Cancer Society of NZ (Inc) publication, Undercover, recommends a minimum of 2.5m 2 per student.

How shade works

While outdoors, we receive direct UVR from sunshine and diffuse UVR which is reflected from the atmosphere (the open sky). In an open field approximately 50% of UVR would come from each source.

High protective shade must use an excellent UVR barrier shading material and be placed to shade the users as the sun-path moves across the sky. The view of the open sky should also be restricted. This can be done by keeping the edges low. Adjacent landscape, buildings, fences, trees and planting can be used to further reduce this 'sky view'.

Design shade for its expected use

It is important to consider the duration of expected use and also whether users are likely to be wearing hats and sunscreen. As SunSmart students will be wearing hats and sunscreen for lunch-time play, shade over play equipment is providing extra protection and therefore a lower protection factor may be acceptable. Conversely, hats and sunscreen are unlikely to be applied before an hour long art class on a classroom verandah. In this case, the verandah should be carefully designed to give more protection e.g. shield the diffuse UVR from the open sky.