It’s going to be an absolutely scorching week, which is great news for some people, but can be extremely challenging for others; whilst many love being outside in the sunshine, never under estimate the power of the English sun.  Please read our top tips to stay safe in the sun this summertime.

Dress for the weather:

Always make sure you dress appropriately for the weather.  If you can choose loose-fitting clothes that are made of light, natural fibres, you’ll stay much cooler.  A sun hat and good quality sunglasses are vital too, as UV exposure can harm your eyes as well as your skin. That extra protection will make all the difference.

Stay hydrated:

In hot weather, it is vital to remember to drink plenty of water and make sure you’re out of the sun during the hottest part the day. Take plenty of breaks in the shade to avoid heat exhaustion.  Ideally use a transparent bottle, so you can see how much you’ve actually drunk.  It’s always easy to think that you’ve drunk more than you really have!  Avoid caffeine and alcohol though, as they can make you dehydrate more quickly than usual.

Heat exhaustion – what it is and how to help:

Heat exhaustion is typically caused when you have been out on a hot day, doing some form of exercise and haven’t drunk enough fluids. It happens due to the body losing salts and water through excessive sweating without rehydration. Heat exhaustion can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, particularly when you are out in the heat for an extended time

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • feeling sick
  • feeling dizzy
  • having a headache
  • having a stomach ache
  • developing a raised temperature

If you have any of these symptoms, make sure you move out of the sun and into the shade or an air-conditioned environment as quickly as possible and start to rehydrate quickly. Frequent sips of Dioralyte are ideal or, if you don’t have that to hand, an isotonic sports drink or water will work too. If you don’t start to feel better quickly, do seek medical attention.

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Heat stroke – what it is and how to help:

People often refer to heat exhaustion as heat stroke, however heat stroke is far more serious than heat exhaustion and someone with heat stroke should always be seen by a health professional as quickly as possible.  Heat stroke is when the body is unable to produce sweat and therefore is unable to cool itself down.  With heat stroke, the body’s temperature control mechanism fails and your temperature keeps rising to dangerously high levels – sometimes beyond 40C!

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • a high temperature (over 103 F)
  • a rapid/strong pulse or heart rate,
  • loss or change of consciousness
  • hot, red, dry or moist skin

This is a medical emergency and you should seek medical advice immediately.

Don’t burn:

Our skin can be extremely delicate (especially after a long, cold, English winter!) and the sun’s UV rays can very quickly damage it, even on a cloudy day.   Sunburn can happen in less than 15 minutes of being out in the sunshine, however the redness and discomfort may not become apparent until a few hours after that – so don’t use the colour of your skin to judge if you’re burning or not.   Sunburn can lead to serious problems in later life, so try your best to avoid it in the first place.

To avoid sunburn:
  1. Always ensure you are wearing appropriate, high SPF sunscreen that has a minimum of 4 stars for UVA protection and apply it liberally over your face and body.  Apply it at least half an hour before going out in the sun and make sure your shoulders, the back of your neck, the tops of your ears, nose, cheeks and the tops of your feet are covered, as these are the areas that often get missed!  Re-apply sun cream every 2-3 hours –  and even more frequently if you’re in and out of the water.
  2. Take particular care if you’re swimming or in a boat on the water, as water intensifies the sun’s rays and can lead to you burning more quickly than if you were on dry land.
  3. When swimming, choose tightly woven opaque swimwear, ideally with a sun factor rating – as this will help block UV rays too.
  4. If you have a baby or toddler, ideally use a pram cover with a sun factor and avoid leaving them for any length of time in a car or buggy positioned in direct sunlight.
  5. Regularly go indoors or move into the shade for a break from the sun
  6. Avoid being in the sun between 11:00 am and 3:00pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest


First Aid for sunburn:

If you do get burned, cool the affected area under a tepid shower for at least 10 minutes or apply repeated cool, wet towels for 15 minutes. When the area has been completely cooled, apply neat Aloe Vera gel to the affected area.  Aloe Vera gel will soothe the burn, reduce swelling and promote healing. If you are in pain, you can take paracetamol to help ease it – but if the sunburn is severe, you should seek help from a medical professional.

Make the most of the sunshine – but be safe at the same time!

It is highly recommended that you attend a practical or online First Aid course to learn how to help in a medical emergency.  First Aid for life and provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.  The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical First Aid course.


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