Most of us welcome the summer, but there can be some health risks. As temperatures rise, especially in a heat wave, it is important to stay protected. The top ways to stay safe when the heat arrives are to:
- Close curtains on rooms that face the sun, to keep indoor spaces cooler.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
- Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
- Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
- Make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling.
- Check the latest weather forecast and temperature warnings – you can find these on TV, radio, Met Office mobile weather app or Met Office website.
- Take care and make sure to follow local safety advice if you are going into the water [e.g. sea, river, lake] to cool down.
This spotlight offers three tips on how to enjoy the summer weather safely. It looks at skin care, keeping or getting fit, and staying hydrated.
Enjoy the sun safely - skin care
Sunburn doesn't just happen on holiday – we can burn in the UK, even when it's cloudy. Sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer. There isn't a safe or healthy way to get a tan; a tan doesn't protect skin from the sun's harmful effects. Aim for a balance between protection from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.
The NHS website gives detailed advice on sunscreen and sun safety for adults and children, including:
•Sun safety tips
•What factor sunscreen (SPF) should I use?
•What are the SPF and star ratings?
•How to apply sunscreen
Fun ways to get fit
There are lots of cheap and fun gym-free activities that make the best of the summer weather, such as walking, running and jogging, cycling and swimming.
On very hot days avoid extreme physical exertion: outdoor activities such as sport, DIY or gardening are best kept for cooler parts of the day – in the early morning or evening.
East Devon District Council’s countryside team organise outdoor activities for the summer ranging from guided walks, bird-watching, willow-weaving, to outdoor yoga.
Keep drinking water
Dehydration (not having enough water) is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose. Hot weather, level of physical activity, and diet can contribute to dehydration.
Some of the early warning signs include:
- Feeling thirsty and lightheaded
- A dry mouth
- Dark coloured, strong-smelling urine
- Passing urine less often than usual
The NHS website gives detailed advice about dehydration, including:
- Who is at risk
- What to do
- How much to drink
- When to see the GP
Studies have tried to establish a recommended daily fluid intake, but it can vary depending on the individual and factors such as age, climate and physical activity. A good rule is to drink enough fluid so that you're not thirsty for long periods, and to steadily increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather.
The Eatwell Guide suggests drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee are all good choices. The NHS gives lots of information about caffeinated drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugars and artificial sweeteners in drinks.