I promised that this blog would contain content relating to my love of public health, so here I am living up to that promise with my tips on staying healthy in hot weather!
The past few days, Britain has been experiencing a heat wave. As hot weather is considered a bit of a novelty here, everyone immediately gets their shorts on and heads out to enjoy the sun! However, some people neglect their health during this time and may pay the price for it later. Here are my top tips for staying healthy when the temperatures climb!
1. Wear sun-cream!
Using a high SPF sun cream not only prevents painful sun burn, but it also helps to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer in the future. Using sun cream daily also helps to prevent some signs of aging, such as dark spots and wrinkles, if you need some more motivation!
2. Dress appropriately
Wearing fewer clothes is the obvious choice to stay cool in high temperatures, but what your clothes are made of makes a difference as well! Choose lighter materials such as cotton or linen, and wear loose fitting clothes to allow ventilation. Try and keep shoulders and the upper back covered, as this is where burning is most likely to occur.
3. Drink plenty of water
Although summer is the season of daytime drinking and beer gardens, alcohol is a diuretic and can lead to dehydration. Combine this with extra sweating and you have a dangerous combination. Try to break up alcoholic beverages with a soft drink or glass of water, and try to drink a glass of water every time you eat to stay hydrated. If you are travelling somewhere, make sure to carry a bottle of water so you don’t get caught short.
4. Take it easy
In the words of MIKA, ‘Relax, take it easy’! During hot weather, try and take it a little easier. This isn’t the time to be completing your extensive household to-do list! If you are exercising, choose something less strenuous such as yoga or swimming, or take advantage of air conditioned indoor facilities! Tempers are likely to be shorter than normal when it is hot, so be more patient and take your time, don’t let your health and happiness suffer. Hot countries adopt a slower pace of life for a reason, try it out for a few days!
5. Avoid the midday sun
Between 11am and 3pm is generally considered the hottest part of the day. During these hours, try and remain inside or in the shade. This is when the air is hottest and also when the sun is most directly overhead, so you are more likely to burn. Additional advice for dog owners: try and walk your dogs outside of these hours, as they won’t enjoy the heat either! In the evenings, allow time for pavements to cool down slightly before your walk as well.
6. Cool off sensibly
A scarily high number of summer fatalities occur from people entering unknown water to cool off, and then getting into trouble. This danger is obviously exacerbated if the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you want to cool off after sunbathing, make sure the water you plan to swim in is safe. Check for signs that may indicate ‘no swimming’, ‘danger’, or ‘deep water’. Be aware of any tides or currents that may be present, or other unseen dangers such as reeds or rocks below the waterline. Let someone know where you are going, but remember your safest option will always be to swim in lifeguarded areas such as pools or beaches.
Hopefully these tips will help you to have a happy summer without jeopardising your health! However, if these tips came to you a bit too late…
Sunburn- stay moisturised with an unfragranced lotion. I recommend aloe vera gel kept in the fridge for extra cooling relief! If the sunburn is severe or causing serious pain, then consult your pharmacist or visit minor injuries.
Dehydration- use a rehydration solution to replace lost electrolytes. These can be bought from a pharmacy or you can use a sports drink such as Lucozade. In severe dehydration, drinking water can dilute electrolytes further and worsen the situation, so choose a drink that contains sugar and salt. If dehydration symptoms are severe (disorientation, prolonged dizziness, no urine passed for 8+ hours) then seek urgent medical attention.
Swimming- if you find yourself in trouble in the water, first try to attract attention. Do this by shouting (‘help’ is always the best option) and waving your arms. If you are panicking, then roll onto your back and take some deep breaths to calm yourself. Once you have attracted attention, try to conserve your energy for staying afloat. If you are caught in a riptide (a current that pulls the individual out to sea away from the beach) then you must swim parallel to the beach to escape it. If you try to swim directly into land you will get nowhere and will waste all your energy!
I hope these tips will help you enjoy your summer!