How to Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer and Heat Stroke When Working in Your Backyard

How to Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer and Heat Stroke When Working in Your Backyard


If you are planning to work in the garden this weekend or setting up your new shed, we recommend you read this article first.

Australia’s weather can be unpredictable and we tend to experience some extreme conditions. As global temperature rises, we are seeing some very hot weather and experiencing heat waves in many areas, and if we combined this with our love for the outdoors we may be facing some major health problems in the future.

We as a nation, spend a lot of time outdoors, from swimming at the beach, hiking in the mountains and even just spending time in our own backyards gardening, BBQ-ing or playing with the kids.

With all this activity outdoors and extreme heat, it may shock you to know that there are ‘2 silent killers’ waiting for you in your backyard and at the beach etc. These two killers are taking lives all around the country…

Skin Cancer and Heat Stroke.


Skin Cancer is one of the worst serial killers. It sits in your backyard waiting for you. It doesn’t wait for night time, no, it chooses the bright sunny days when it knows you will be outside. It attacks you in the daylight and the scary thing is you won’t know it until years down the track.


It certainly is a scary thought and with Melanoma being the biggest of the skin cancers causing death, we must take it seriously. It has become an epidemic in our country and according to the Melanoma Institute of Australia:

  • More than 1,500 Australians die from melanoma each year.
  • Melanoma makes up only 2.3% of all skin cancers but is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths.
  • Melanoma was responsible for 3.4% of all cancer deaths in Australia in 2010.

Warning signs of Melanoma:

Often Melanoma has no symptoms, however, it can be linked with changes that relate to the growth rate of a spot or raised bump, the shape or colour or a combination of them. It’s hard to tell hence many go undetected.

Other Skin Cancers

There are other kinds of skin cancers you should be aware of as well because they too greatly impact your life. Two of the major types are:

Over 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year.

They may not be big killers but they can mutilate your skin and body. I would show you some images but they are too graphic and shocking.

Warning signs of non-melanoma skin cancers:

  • Any crusty, non-healing sores
  • Small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
  • New spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour).


The second killer, Heat Stroke, attacks much quicker than Skin Cancer and tends to be more deadly for young children and the elderly. However, it does not mean you are safe if you don’t fall into those categories. In the right circumstances, it can take anyone’s life.

Heat Strokes can often be confused with “Heat Exhaustion’ and ‘Sun Stroke”. Neither of them is usually taken seriously even though the symptoms are similar to a ‘Heat Stroke” which is deadly. The first aid manual defines a Heat Stroke as “a condition where the body’s temperature regulation centre, in the brain, has been rendered inoperable and the body temperature continually rises causing eventually..” a Coma. From Coma, a person can suffer Brain damage or potentially Death.

Dr Cope told the SMH Newspaper “We know that we currently have about a thousand deaths a year in Australia due to heat stress and related illnesses,” and with our country experiencing more and more hot days over 40 Degrees we will see an increase in deaths.

Skin Cancer - Core body temp

Warning Signs:

  • Very high body temperature
  • Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating)
  • Dry swollen tongue
  • Rapid pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness, confusion, nausea
  • Collapse
  • Eventual unconsciousness

At the end of the day, you can beat these two ‘Silent killers’ by ‘Prevention and Protection’

  1. Don’t overexpose your skin to the sun
  2. On hot days remain indoors and avoid heavy strenuous work
  3. Drink plenty of cool liquids- specifically water when you are out in the sun
  4. Take regular breaks from the heat
  5. If you have to work outdoors, choose the mornings or later afternoon to do so and keep to shady areas where possible
  6. Follow the “Slip Slop Slap” rule- slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. Don’t forget your sunglasses too!
  7. Once you are in your mid-twenties it is beneficial to start seeing a skin doctor once a year for a regular skin checkup to catch any nasties

Follow the guidelines above and it will give you the best chance of beating them but for more information or if you are concerned you may be suffering from either it’s best to go directly to a doctor for medical advice and attention.

So next time you are out in the garden or working on your shed, make sure to…

Cover up

Drink lots of fluids 

Be wary of the sun and heat

** The above article is advice only and you must seek professional help for assistance if you think you are suffering from either condition.

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