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Summer Health

Summer Health

There are a lot of risks and accidents associated with the summer months from sunburn, heat stroke, dehydration, insect bites and water based incidents

Heat exhaustion is when a person feels fatigue due to a drop in blood pressure which is caused by a loss of body fluids and salts after being exposed to heat for a long period of time.

Signs of someone with heat exhaustion may be feeling sick and nauseated, faint and sweating heavily. A person who is experiencing heat exhaustion should be taken to a cool place and given water to drink, after a few hours they should start to feel better. If a person with the above symptoms ignores them, heat exhaustion may develop into heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a more serious condition and happens when the body’s temperature becomes too high due to excessive heat exposure. The body is no longer able to cool itself and begins to overheat. The signs are; cramping (especially in the legs) this is due to the body losing salt and electrolytes, fatigue, red, hot and dry skin, thirst, fast pulse, throbbing headache, confusion, dizziness and nausea.

 Avoiding heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • Stay ultra-hydrated; water is good for keeping you hydrated but drinks with added electrolytes like PowerAde are useful because they help replace salt and retain fluid.
  • Know the signs!
  • If possible avoid the mid-day sun (between 11am and 2pm)
  • Wear sunblock and keep topped up throughout the day and always reapply when in and out of the water
  • Remove yourself from the heat if you start to feel too hot; moving into the shade or having a cool shower/bath or damping your skin with cool water using a flannel/towel will help you cool down if you over heat.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing heat stroke do not delay in seeking medical help.

 If you are cooking on the barbeque , the two main risk factors are:

  • Undercooked meat
  • Spreading germs from raw meat onto food that is ready to eat (cross-contamination)

This is because raw or undercooked meat can contain germs that cause food poisoning such as salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter. However, these germs can be killed by cooking meat until it is piping hot throughout.

Cooking meat on a barbeque:

When you’re cooking any kind of meat on a barbeque, such as poultry (chicken or turkey), pork, steak, burgers or sausages, make sure:

  • You always wash your hands after touching raw meat
  • Use separate utensils (plates, tongs and chopping boards) for cooked and raw meat
  • The coals are glowing red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking, as this means that they’re hot enough
  • Frozen meat is properly thawed before you cook it
  • Never wash raw chicken or other poultry before cooking as this increases the risk of spreading campylobacter bacteria
  • Don’t put raw meat next to cooked or partly cooked meat on the BBQ
  • Don’t put sauce or marinade on cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat
  • You turn the meat regularly and move it around the barbeque to cook it evenly

Remember that meat is safe to eat only when:

  • It is piping hot in the centre
  • There is no pink meat visible
  • Any juices are clear

Don’t assume that because meat is charred on the outside that it will be cooked properly on the inside, always check before you eat or serve by cutting the thickest part of the meat and ensure none of it is pink on the inside.

Children are fascinated by water, it’s fun, keeps them cool and is great exercise but anyone can drown and even the best supervisors and carers can get briefly distracted, and all it takes to drown is three minutes face-down in water.

Children between two and six are particularly at risk of drowning in ponds and paddling pools. Between five and ten children a year drown in a garden pond and in 2012, 18 children under the age of 15 drowned in the UK.

  • If you have a pond and a toddler the best thing to do is fill the pond in with sand to make a sand pit. Otherwise, cover it with a substantial grille or put a fence around it.
  • At villas with a pool check the following:
    • Does the pool have a lifeguard or pool attendant? A pool attendant is only responsible for keeping the poolside clean, rather than ensuring safety in the water.
    • Does the pool have a barrier? Having a fence is particularly important at villas if you have younger children.
  • Open water is generally where older children and teenagers are most at risk from features near to their homes such as rivers, lakes and coastal water near to the shore. Have an early conversation about how to stay safe and the risks of colder, open water. Even the strongest swimmer can be affected by cold water shock which affects the ability to control breathing which can lead to gasping, panic and in the worst cases, drowning. Cold water shock can start at 15°C and the average temperature of the sea around Britain in 12°C.
  • Further research shows that half of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults involve the use of alcohol. Avoiding drinks while engaging in activities such as swimming is a good place to start for ensuring a safe summer.

Ensuring your child can swim is another great way to ensure they’ll be safe in and around water. More information around swimming lessons for your children can be found here

Sunlight contains two types of ultraviolet radiations; UVA and UVB. It is the exposure to these rays than can lead to damage on the body.

UVB rays are mainly responsible for burning the skin whereas UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with ageing of the skin (wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other light-induced effects of ageing).

Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect your skin from UVA and UVB and no sunscreen is perfect. Following the important tips below will help ensure you help your skin stay healthy, youthful and burn free:

  • Regardless of the sunscreen strength, reapply it to your skin at least every two hours. Reapply more often if in and out of the water and or playing sports.
  • Reddening of the skin is a reaction to UVB rays only, damage by UVA may be well underway without you knowing so follow other sun safety procedures such as covering up or removing yourself from the sun between 11 and 3pm.
  • Wear a good quality sunscreen at least an SPF 15.
  • Check the ingredients to make sure it covers for UVB and UVA.
  • Everyone over the age of six months should wear sunscreen on a daily basis regardless of whether the sun is out. Children under the age of six months should be kept out of the sun as their skin is still too delicate.

An insect bite or sting often causes a small lump to develop which is usually very itchy. A small hole, or the sting itself may also be visible. The lump may have an inflamed (red and swollen) area around the bite that may be filled with fluid.

Insect bites are common in the summer months and usually come from one of the following insects:

  • Midges, mosquitos, gnats
  • Fleas
  • Horseflies
  • Bedbugs
  • Ticks
  • Mites
  • Spiders
  • Wasps and hornets
  • Bees

More information around the signs and symptoms of insect and tick bites can be found here

Last updated: 23/03/2016