Summer Safety - Top Health Tips
- Summer Safety
- Summer safety for younger children
- Open Water Swimming
- Preventing and managing hay fever
Unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to burns and premature ageing of skin. It can also lead to skin cancer and cause damage to your eyes.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe in the sun:
- Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
- Make sure you don’t burn – use sunscreen and reapply after swimming.
- Use a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses to cover up.
- Use a sunscreen that is at least factor 30+.
- Take extra care with children and use a higher factor sunscreen.
What sun protection factor (SPF) should I use?
Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The higher the SPF the better. Go for broad-spectrum sunscreens, which protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays. The ideal UVA is a minimum of 4-star UVA Protection. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years. Do not spend any longer in the sun than you would without sunscreen.
What is broad spectrum and the star-rating?
Broad-spectrum products provide protection against the sun’s UVB and UVA rays. The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measurement of the amount of UVB protection. The higher the number, the greater the protection. In the UK, UVA protection is measured with a star rating. Sunscreens has from 0 to 5 stars. The higher the number of stars, the greater the protection.
What should I look for in sunglasses?
Sunglasses can also offer protection, but not all of them are adequate. When you’re shopping for sunglasses, choose a pair that has one of the following:
- the CE Mark and British Standard (BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013)
- a UV 400 label
- a statement that the sunglasses offer 100% UV protection
What about the need for Vitamin D?
Sunlight does help the skin on our body to produce vitamin D, which helps keep our bones healthy. Although you should not sunbathe to increase your vitamin D levels, small amounts of incidental sunlight, as you might get through your daily activities, may help to boost your vitamin D levels.
If you are at high risk of skin cancer, you should make protecting your skin in the sun a priority, and look to get as much vitamin D as possible from other sources, such as your diet and supplements, rather than placing yourself at higher risk from skin cancer. To find out if you are at increased risk from developing skin cancer and for further advice visit the NHS Choices webpage
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If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot weather doesn't harm you or anyone you know.
The very young, the elderly and the seriously ill are the groups who are particularly at risk of health problems when the weather is very hot. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.
Many prescription medicines can reduce your tolerance of heat. You should keep taking your medicines, but take extra care to keep cool.
Why is a heatwave a problem?
The main risks posed by a heatwave are:-
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
- Information and advice for the public on heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be found on the NHS Choices website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/
- Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it isn't treated it can get worse and become a serious problem. Babies, children and the elderly are more at risk of dehydration.
- Further information and advice for the public on dehydration can be found on the NHS Choices website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/
Here are some tips for keeping cool and well in the hot weather:
- Keep rooms cools by shutting windows and closing curtains/blinds during the day. Open windows for ventilation when it is cooler if it is safe to do so.
- Stay out of the sun when it is really hot.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors. Sunscreen and sunglasses will also help to protect you from the sun.
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash your-self with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as these can dehydrate you.
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or on the Met Office website.
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need – medications also need to be kept cool too.
- Do not leave people who are vulnerable to very hot weather (very young babies or children or very old people) alone in a parked car.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
Danger symptoms to watch out for in hot weather include: feeling faint and dizzy, short of breath, vomiting or increasing confusion. Take immediate action if danger symptoms of heatstroke are present:
- Cool down as quickly as possible.
- Do not take aspirin or paracetamol – this can make you worse. Do carry on taking all other prescribed medicines.
- Seek medical advice from NHS 111, a doctor, or ring 999 if the person has collapsed.
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Summer safety for younger children
Children love spending time outdoors. However, their skin is more delicate than an adult’s and can easily be damaged by the sun, even when it doesn’t seem strong.
What you can do
- Always keep babies and toddlers in the shade.
- For older children, seek shade between 11am – 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.
- Use a minimum SPF 50 sunscreen on your children, with at least 4 stars for UVA protection.
- No sunscreen offers 100% protection so cover up with close weave clothing and a wide brimmed hat.
- Generously apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going out. Reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.
- Encourage children to wear sunglasses with wrap around lenses or wide arms, which carry CE and British Standard marks.
Further information on avoiding dehydration in babies and young children and keeping them cool is available on the NHS website.
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We want you to enjoy the water, but it is important to be safe. In 2020, 254 people lost their lives in accidental drownings in the UK, with hundreds more near-drowning experiences, sometimes with long-term injuries. 42 of these 2020 fatalities took place in South West England. Children are particularly at risk. Read more about how to keep safe.
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Hay fever affects around one in four people in the UK. It is very difficult to completely avoid pollen. However, reducing your exposure to the substances that trigger your hay fever should ease your symptoms.
The main triggers of hay fever are tree and grass pollen. The pollen count is always higher on hot, dry days.
Tips on reducing your exposure to pollen
- Don’t mow your lawn when the pollen count is high; ask someone else if they could mow it for you, or wait until the pollen count is low.
- Create a barrier; smear a nasal barrier balm inside your nostrils, or use a drug-free nasal spray or dab of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) to prevent pollen sticking to the lining of your nose. Ask your pharmacist about nasal barrier balms and nasal sprays.
- Time it right; If possible, avoid outside activity when the air is warming up and cooling down as pollen count is highest at these times, around 8-10am and 5-7pm.
- Shut the windows: don’t drive with the windows open, as this will allow pollen to come in. Open bedroom windows at night, but close them when you get up in the morning.
- Damp dust regularly; dusting with a damp or microfibre cloth will collect dust and stop any pollen from becoming airborne.
- Wash your hair; pollen is sticky and may be in your hair.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes.
- Vacuum; pollen can live in carpet, so make sure you vacuum regularly.
Think about your medication
Talk to your GP or pharmacist about your hay fever, if your symptoms are not controlled by your current treatment.
Non-sedating antihistamines may be adequate for mild or intermittent hay fever symptoms, but many people will need to use a steroid nasal spray (available from a pharmacy or prescribed by a GP) to treat the inflammation in the nose caused by hay fever.
Starting treatment before symptoms start will also ensure the medication is in your system when pollen triggers your hay fever.
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For further information on how to keep well and safe this summer use the following links:
Details of Public Health programmes such as drinking, substance misuse, and sexual health services can be found on the B&NES Council Public Health webpages.
For family friendly advice on healthy living please see the Change For Life pages
New app for parents: HANDi App
Approved by paediatric consultants at the Royal United Hospital and endorsed by local GPs
HANDi app provides straightforward expert advice for parents on how best to manage the six most common childhood illnesses:
- diarrhoea and vomiting
- high temperature
- newborn problems and stomach pain
The app can be downloaded for free: