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Look after your family this summer with our sun protection advice

The very young, the elderly and the seriously ill are particularly at risk of health problems when the weather is very hot. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse. You may not know this, but heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated. 

Too much sun can also be damaging to your children especially if they are exposed to too much sun at the peak times of 11am – 3pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

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The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable and reducing health risks:

  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn't possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter). 
  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler. 
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water. 
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. 
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool. 
  • Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors. 
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves. 

Things to consider if you have a child

  • Cover exposed parts of your child's skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Remember to apply it to their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and the tops of their feet and hands as well.
  • Be especially careful to protect your child's shoulders and the back of their neck when they're playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
  • Cover your child up in loose, baggy cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves.
  • Get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck.
  • Protect your child's eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the ‘CE’ mark (check the label or ask the manufacturer).
  • If your child is swimming, use a waterproof sunblock and re-apply after towelling.

For minor sunburn it is best to sponge sore skin with cool water, then apply soothing after sun or calamine lotion. Your local pharmacy can advise on over-the-counter treatment to help ease symptoms and reduce any inflammation.

If skin swells badly or blisters, visit your local NHS walk-in centre on London Road or the 8am-8pm centre on Upper Parliament St, or call NHS 111, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s simple to use, just dial 111 free from a landline or mobile and you’ll be put through to someone who can give you advice and tell you where to get help.

If you or someone feels unwell, get them somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink. If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or don’t go away, seek medical help. 

NHS Nottingham University Hospitals
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