Safe and well this summer - keep your cool!
Although most of us welcome the summer sun, if the current high temperatures continue or further increase there may harm to your health.
In very high temperatures the advise from Public Health England is:
- keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
- if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf
- avoid extreme physical exertion
- wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes
Cool yourself down
- Keep yourself hydrated (see elsewhere in this issue of eBorough Insight)
- eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
- take a cool shower, bath or body wash
- sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck
Keep your environment cool
- all electrical equipment, including computers, monitors and printers should be switched off when not in use and should not be left in ‘standby mode’ – electrical equipment, when left on or in ‘standby’ mode, generates heat
- keep the use of electric lighting to a minimum during heatwaves
- keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day and open at night (if it is safe to do so) when the temperature has dropped
- windows not exposed to the sun and other ventilation openings should not be closed, but their openings reduced when the outdoor air becomes warmer than the air indoors – this should help keep rooms cool whilst allowing adequate ventilation (but ensure security is not compromised)
- close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun, however, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or
putting reflective material in-between them and the window space
- keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air
- if possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping
- electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°c
Children’s susceptibility to high temperatures varies; those who are overweight or who are taking medication may be at increased risk of adverse effects. Children under four years of age are also at increased risk. Some children with disabilities or complex health needs may be more susceptible to temperature extremes.
- on very hot days (ie where temperatures are in excess of 30°C) children should not take part in vigorous physical activity
- children playing outdoors should be encouraged to stay in the shade as much as possible
- loose, light-coloured clothing should be worn to help children keep cool and hats of a closed construction with wide brims should be worn to avoid sunburn
- thin clothing or sun cream should be used to protect skin if children are playing outdoors for more than 20 minutes
- children must be provided with plenty of cool water and encouraged to drink more than usual when conditions are hot (the temperature of water supplied from the cold tap is adequate for this purpose)
Look out for others
- keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool
- ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars
- check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave
- be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed
If you have a health problem
- keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator (read the storage instructions on the packaging)
- seek medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications
If you or others feel unwell
- try to get help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache
- move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature
- drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate
- rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, in many cases after sustained exercise during very hot
weather), and drink oral rehydration solutions containing electrolytes.
- medical attention is needed if heat cramps last more than one hour
- dial 101 or consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist
Safe and well this summer - hydration
When the normal water content of our bodies is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugars), which affects the way the body functions.
Symptoms of mild dehydration can include headache, thirst, and it can even affect how we feel and think. Mild dehydration is also associated with impaired concentration, poor decision making, reduced skill and accuracy, irritability and tiredness, and can be worsened in warm environments. As such, maintaining good hydration can contribute towards wellbeing, productivity and positivity in schools, in the workplace and the home.
If left untreated, severe dehydration can be serious and cause fits (seizures), brain damage and death.
Who is at risk from dehydration?
Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include:
- babies and infants – they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss
- older people – they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids
- people with a long-term health condition
- athletes – they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long periods
Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include:
- feeling thirsty and lightheaded
- a dry mouth
- having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine
- passing urine less often than usual
What to do
- If you're dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea or coffee. Fizzy drinks may contain more sugar than you need and may be harder to take in large amounts
- If you're finding it difficult to keep water down because you're vomiting, try drinking small amounts more frequently
- Infants and small children who are dehydrated shouldn't be given large amounts of water alone as the main replacement fluid. This is because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body too much and lead to other problems. Instead, they should be given diluted squash or a rehydration solution (available from pharmacies). You might find a teaspoon or syringe can be helpful for getting fluid into a young child
- Children should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water, milk or fruit/vegetable juices
- Children taking part in sports need to replenish the lost fluids by drinking more water.
- See your GP if your symptoms continue, despite drinking plenty of fluids, or if you think your baby or toddler is dehydrated
- Contact your GP, out-of-hours service or NHS 111 straight away if you have any of the following symptoms:
- extreme thirst
- feeling unusually tired (lethargic) or confused
- not passing urine for eight hours
- rapid heartbeat
- dizziness when you stand up that doesn't go away after a few seconds
Safe and well this summer - fun in the sun
Whilst it may be nice to sit outside and tan, the repercussions may not be so nice as skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers and can be fatal.
Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) is of at least 15 and that it has at least a four-star UVA protection. When it comes to sunscreen, you can never be too safe, always check the label. This applies to bottles you may already have hidden away, sunscreen should not be used past its expiry date and whilst typically, sunscreen has a shelf life of two to three years It’s important to cover your body in the right amount of sunscreen as most people don’t apply enough. If sunscreen is applied in a thin manner, the amount of protection will be limited. Even if your sunscreen says “water resistant”, apply once more if you’ve been swimming as towelling and sweating can result in your sunscreen being rubbed off.
Ditch the shorts and instead opt for trousers or long skirts in close-weave fabrics that don’t allow sunlight through, alongside a loose, long-sleeved cotton top as these clothing options will provide sun protection.
Don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat to ensure that your face, neck and ears are protected!
Wear UV sunglasses to reduce UV exposure to the eyes as not having proper eye protection can result in a temporary yet painful burn to the surface of the eye. Be sure to check that your pair carries the CE mark (you can check the label) and that children’s sunglasses meet the British Standard too.
You should take extra precautions in the midday sun – the sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm. During this time period, you should avoid spending time in the direct sunlight but instead choose to spend time in the shade to avoid getting sunburn.
If you or a family member do catch the sun and result in becoming sunburnt, a few tips to erase the pain and treat the sunburn is to sponge the skin with cool water, after doing this – soothe with after sun or calamine lotion. You can take medication to help ease the pain as painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce inflammation..
Safe and well this summer - let's barbie!
Cases of food poisoning almost double during the summer, and research shows that the undercooking of raw meat on barbecues and the contamination of bacteria onto the food we eat are among the main reasons.
So it's vital you remember the 4C's of food hygiene:
The Food Standards Agency has put together some advice to help you serve up a sensational barbecue while keeping your guests safe.
Chilling and defrosting
Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing, especially in the warm summer months.
To keep your food safe:
- don't defrost foods at room temperature
- defrost food overnight in the fridge or if this is not possible, using a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking
- cool cooked foods quickly at room temperature and then place in the fridge within one to two hours
- store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods, covered on the bottom shelf of your fridge
- keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation
- keep any food with a use-by date, cooked dishes, salads and ready-to-eat desserts chilled and out of the sun until serving time
- don't overfill your fridge, this allows air to circulate and maintains the set temperature
Some foods need to be kept in the fridge to help slow down the growth of bacteria and keep food fresh and safe for longer. Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature is below 5°C as the dials on fridges don't always show you the right temperature.
Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed. This applies to products made from minced meat such as burgers and sausages as well as to kebabs, chicken and pork.
- Don't forget, charred on the outside doesn't always mean cooked on the inside. Before serving meat that you have cooked on the barbecue, always check that:
the meat is steaming hot throughout
- there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part
- meat juices run clear -
Consider cooking all chicken and pork in the oven first, then giving it a final finish on your barbecue. Your friends and family will still experience that special barbecue chargrilled taste, and you know that you have cooked the meat all the way through.
Remember that a burger is not like a steak. Burgers should always be served well done, they should not be served rare or pink. This is because when meat is minced to produce burgers, any harmful bacteria from the surface of the raw meat spread throughout the burger. Unless the burger is cooked right through, these bacteria can remain alive on the inside. This applies equally to all meat that is minced, including good quality or expensive meat.
Effective cleaning gets rid of bacteria on hands, equipment and surfaces, helping to stop harmful bacteria from spreading onto food.
Help minimise the risk of germs spreading by:
- washing hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before cooking and eating, especially if you've been handling raw meat or things like firelighters
- keeping utensils and serving dishes clean when preparing food and ensuring you don't mix those used to prepare raw and ready-to-eat dishes
- never washing raw chicken or any other meat - it just splashes germs onto your hands, utensils and worktops
Cross-contamination is most likely to happen when raw food touches or drips onto ready-to-eat food, utensils or surfaces.
Prevent it by:
- storing raw meat separately from ready-to-eat foods
- using different utensils, plates and chopping boards for raw and cooked food
- washing your hands after touching raw meat and before you handle ready-to-eat food
Understanding food poisoning
Many people mistakenly think that food poisoning is just a passing tummy bug but it can be really serious.
Most people with food poisoning recover at home and don't need any specific treatment. Find out more about the symptoms of food poisoning and what to do if someone has severe symptoms.
Safe and well this summer - bites, stings and allergies
As well as warm and relaxing days, the summer also brings wasps, bees, ants, midges and other biting and stinging invertebrates.
Most insect bites and stings clear up on their own in a few hours or 2 to 3 days. You can usually treat them without seeing a GP.
Simple first aid for insect bites and stings – to deal with any redness, swelling and any stinging or burning pain:
- remove the sting if you can see it
- clean the wound with soap and water
- apply something cold to the skin - for example a damp cloth or ice pack
- raise the hand, foot or leg if that’s where you have been bitten or stung
If the bite or sting is on the face, call 111 for first aid advice because the reaction can be more severe.
Hay fever is very common. It affects about one in five people in the UK. Hay fever and asthma are closely linked. Pollen is a common trigger for people with asthma. If you're one of these people, your GP or asthma nurse may add hay fever treatments to your written asthma action plan.
There are hundreds of different types of grasses, trees and weeds in the UK. Different types of pollen are released at different times of the year. Grass pollens are the most common cause of hay fever and usually affect people in early summer. Weed pollens (such as nettles and docks) usually release pollen from early spring to early autumn.
It is possible to be allergic to more than one type of pollen - and you may also be allergic to the spores from moulds or fungi.
It's sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms of hay fever by taking some basic precautions, such as:
- wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes when you're outdoors
- taking a shower and changing your clothes after being outdoors to remove the pollen on your body
- staying indoors when the pollen count is high (over 50 grains per cubic metre of air)
- Sign up for pollen alerts http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/pollen-forecast/#?tab=map
- applying a small amount of petroleum gel (eg Vaseline) to the nasal openings to trap pollen grains
Safe and well this summer - overseas
Before you head off on holiday this summer, there are three things you should do:
- Check the latest UK Foreign Office Travel Advice for the country you are visiting
- Make sure you have adequate travel insurance – check the small print!
- Watch the Counter Terrorism Policing holiday safety film (on youtube)
The chances of being caught up in a terrorist incident are still low but sadly we know that atrocities do take place, so it is important everyone stays alert and knows what to do if the worst was to happen.
The advice is provided in the same way airlines show a safety video before take-off. They do not expect anything bad to happen but it is a sensible safety precaution to show people what to do.
While there is no specific intelligence that British holidaymakers will be targeted, this film highlights the steps you can take to minimise the impact of an attack – including knowing the local emergency services number.
If you hear gunshots you should:
to a place of safety. This is better than trying to surrender or negotiate.
it is better to hide than confront. Barricade yourself in, turn your phone to silent and use only when it is safe to do so.
Make sure you know the local emergency numbers in the country you are travelling to (for all EU countries call 112, in the USA call 911)