With the warmer weather upon us, we’ve listed a few tips below for staying sun safe.
Three potentially serious health conditions in this hot weather are heat exhaustion, heatstroke and dehydration.
Tips for avoiding heat exhaustion and heatstroke
• Stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm
• Apply sunscreen, wear a hat and walk in the shade
• Do not leave anyone in a parked car
• Avoid excessive physical exertion
• Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol
• Eat cold foods, especially those with a high water content such as fruit and salad
• Take a cool shower or bath or wash yourself down with a cool, damp cloth
• Sprinkle water over your skin or clothing or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck
• Keep your environment cool
The main symptom of heat exhaustion is extreme tiredness. When you are exposed to heat for long periods of time, your blood pressure and blood volumes levels can drop. This is due to a loss of body fluids and salts.
Other symptoms of heat exhaustion are nausea, fainting and sweating heavily.
Anybody suffering from heat exhaustion should be quickly taken to a cool place and given water to drink. Excess clothing should be removed. Without treatment, there is a risk of developing heatstroke.
Heatstroke is when the body is no longer able to cool itself and its temperature become dangerously high.
Symptoms of heatstroke include dry skin, vertigo, confusion, headache, thirst, nausea, rapid shallow breathing and muscle cramps.
Suspected heatstroke should always be regarded as a medical emergency. Dial 999 for an ambulance and then move the person to a cool area, increase ventilation, give them water to drink and shower them with cool (but not cold) water. If this is not possible, cover their body with cool, damp towels or sheets.
For more detailed information, visit the NHS website
Tips for avoiding dehydration
It’s easy in the summer months to become dehydrated, either due to excessive perspiration, not taking in enough fluid or as a result of illness, such as a vomiting and diarrhoea bug (watch out for our blog on BBQ safety coming soon).
Your body can be affected even if you only lose a small amount of fluid. If you are feeling thirsty, lightheaded, overtired, dry-mouthed, need to go to the toilet less often than usual or have dark or strong-smelling urine, these could be early warning signs that you are dehydrated.
Babies and infants, the elderly, people with long-term health conditions and those who exercise for long periods at a time are particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated.
If you’re dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids; particularly water, diluted squash or fruit juice. Avoid large amounts of tea, coffee and fizzy drinks.
If you’re dehydrated due to illness, try to drink little and often.
Babies, infants and small children should not be given water alone as this can dilute their mineral levels, which could lead to other problems. Instead, they should be given diluted squash or a rehydration solution, which you can get from a pharmacy.
Severe dehydration can be very serious; causing seizures, brain damage or even death. If your symptoms are severe, or persistent, always go to see your GP. Out-of-hours, seek emergency treatment.
Points to remember:
1. Drink enough fluid so that you’re not thirsty for long periods.
2. Increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather.
3. Passing clear urine is a good sign that you’re well hydrated.