Keep cool and stay safe in the sun

As a heatwave heads to the UK this weekend, here are a few tips to stay cool in the heat and safe in the sun.

Keep cool in the heat

Here are a few tips which might help you cope with the expected high temperatures.

  • Stay hydrated. Your body needs water in order to regulate your temperature. On hot days your body needs more water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty before having a drink. If you are going out for the day make sure you take plenty of drinks with you or have enough money to buy some.
  • Wear light-coloured or white clothes as these reflect more sunlight. Dark clothes absorb more energy and could warm you up.
  • Long-sleeved tops and longer trousers might actually keep you cooler than shorts and t-shirts as they block more sunlight from reaching your skin.
  • Keep your house as cool as possible. If the air in your house is cooler than outside then you are likely to warm up your house by opening the windows. Keep your blinds and curtains shut to keep out the sunlight. If you do want to open curtains and windows, do this on the shady side of your house.
  • Cool water on your skin can help reduce your temperature rapidly. Apply water by using a cool, damp flannel.
  • Stay indoors or in the shade during the early afternoon when temperatures are typically highest.
  • Stay downstairs in your house as this area tends to be cooler than upstairs.
  • Avoid physical activities that might warm you up, and make the most of any fans or air conditioners you might own.
  • Make sure vulnerable people you know, such as elderly relatives or neighbours, are also staying cool and safe during the heat.

Stay safe in the sun

Strong sunlight contains damaging UV rays that can age skin and increase the likelihood of developing skin cancers later in life. Minimise this risk by:

  • Keep your skin covered up when outside. Long-sleeved tops and full-length trousers will reduce the amount of UV light reaching your skin. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep sunlight off your face and neck.
  • Use a good-quality, high-factor sunscreen on exposed areas of skin. Apply the cream liberally before going outside. Reapply the cream regularly throughout the day, especially if you are swimming as this can wash off the cream quite quickly. Make sure you don’t miss areas like the back of the neck or tips of the ears. For more information on appropriate sunscreen use see the NHS website.
  • Keep out of the midday/early afternoon sun completely when UV rays are at their strongest.
  • Wear good-quality sunglasses to protected your eyes from UV rays. Be aware the some cheap sunglasses, including sunglasses for children, might not include UV protection.
  • If you start to notice your skin itching or turning pink then cover up and return to somewhere shady. You should avoid the sun for several days to give your skin chance to heal.
  • Be extra careful in places in which you are being cooled but your skin is still exposed to sunlight, for example: an air-conditioned car, along windy coastline, swimming outside or riding in a convertible car. You might feel cooler and this could mask the UV damage being done to your skin.
  • Young children can be especially at risk as they might not be aware of the hazards of sun exposure or be able to recognise the warning signs of early sunburn. Take time to share advice, ensure they have access to a hat and good-quality sunglasses, and help them to apply and reapply sunscreen regularly.