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Heat and sun

Enjoy the sun safely

Whilst many of us like to enjoy the sun and hot weather, we should make sure we do it safely and remember certain groups of people are more vulnerable than others to the effects of heat or ultraviolet radiation. Extreme heat can force the body into overdrive as it tries to stay cool through perspiration and evaporation. Young children and older people are particularly at risk. Overexposure to sun is equally dangerous, with effects ranging from mild sunburn to skin cancer. It doesn't have to be hot for the UV index to be high.

Make sure you know what to do

Before a heatwave

  • Ensure you have plenty of cold fluids available.

During a heatwave

  • Try to keep your house cool, closing blinds or curtains can help.
  • At night, keep your sleeping area well ventilated. Night cooling is important as it allows the body to recuperate.
  • Try to stay cool by taking cool showers or baths and/or sprinkle yourself several times a day with cold water.
  • Avoid too much exercise, which can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and can even be fatal. Watch for signs of heat stress — an early sign is fatigue.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but not alcohol, which dehydrates the body.
  • Try to eat as you normally would. Not eating properly may exacerbate health-related problems.
  • If driving, keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness. Take plenty of water with you and have regular rest breaks.
  • If you have vulnerable neighbours who may be at risk during a heatwave, try to visit them daily.
  • If you do go out, try and avoid the hottest part of the day (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and seek shade where possible. Avoid being in the sun for long stretches.

Before going out in the sun

  • Check you have appropriate sun cream for your particular type of skin.

During sunny weather

  • The UV index (the strength of the sun) can be high at many times of the year — it doesn't have to be hot. The UV index can be strong through cloud even when the sun isn't directly shining.
  • If you go out, wear lightweight, light-coloured clothing, high factor sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid being in the sun for long stretches.
  • Reapply an appropriate factor sun cream at regular intervals during the day.

Do not leave children or animals in parked cars. Even on cool days, strong sunshine can make car interiors very hot.

Beach photo

Met Office Heat-Health Watch
A Heat-Health Watch system operates in England from 1 June to 15 September each year.

Heatwave plan
Department of Health guidance on reducing health risks during a heatwave.

SunSmart
SunSmart is run by Cancer Research UK and raises awareness about skin cancer and sun protection for both the public and professionals.



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