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Heat wave

During the summer, longer days with lighter nights mean more people head outdoors to enjoy sport, recreation and relaxation.

Whilst we know we can't be guaranteed good weather all summer, we can ensure that we are prepared to enjoy the season safely.

However you plan to spend your summer, here are some handy hints and tips for all occasions, and links to other websites if you want more detailed information. Look out for advice on:

  • What to do when it's hot outside
  • Best advice to stay safe in the sun 
  • Looking after yourself in the garden
  • Exploring the great outdoors
  • Travelling safely

When it's hot outside

Whilst most of us try to make the most of any warm weather that comes our way, it is important to remember that the heat can affect anyone. Conditions related to heat waves such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion can have serious consequences if not quickly treated

When it's hot outside follow these simple steps to stay safe.

  • Keepin touch with others particularly those in vulnerable groups like
    the elderly, the very young and those with chronic health conditions.
  • Keep yourself cool - Sometimes the temperature outside is so high your body is unable to cool down by itself. There are a number of things you can do to help this cooling process. If the heat outside keeps you indoors, try to keep your  nvironment as cool as possible.
  • Avoid pollution especially if you suffer from a breathing or heart
    condition. You may benefit by registering with the free Know and Respond Scotland service. This provides text message alerts when the air quality is poor, accompanied by targeted health advice.

Be prepared for the weather, whatever it might be. Get your forecast online or download the Met Office free weather forecast app direct to your mobile phone.

Staying safe in the sun

Uncovered skin is particularly vulnerable to sunburn during the summer months. You can avoid sun damage to your skin by avoiding  the sun between 11am and 3pm; if you have to go out stay in the shade; if outdoors, protect your skin - use sunscreen (of at least Factor 15) and; wear a hat, sunglasses and light coloured loose fitting clothes (preferably cotton).

In the garden

The summer months are an opportunity for the green fingered amongst us to get out and enjoy our gardens. The recent outbreak of the potentially fatal Legionella longbeachae bacteria amongst gardeners in Scotland has reinforced the importance of good hygiene practice.

This unusual form of Legionella bacteria can be present in potting compost. Gardeners became infected by inhaling or ingesting the compost dust. Whilst the risk of becoming unwell is low, following Health Protection Scotland's gardening hygiene advice is recommended. Read Health Protection Scotland's guidelines on gardening hygiene.

Exploring the great outdoors

If you are taking to the hills, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland suggests that you should pay extra attention to what lies in the undergrowth. Exposed skin, can leave hill-walkers vulnerable to tick borne diseases such as Lyme Disease. Read Health Protection Scotland's factsheet: What do I need to know about ticks and tick borne diseases?

We also need to take care to staysafe around rivers, reservoirs and lochs. If you want to go swimming, it is best to go to a properly-supervised site, such as a beach, lido or swimming pool.

Summer is also the time when potentially hazardous blue-green algae can bloom in waterways.  Affected water appears green, blue-green or greenish brown.

Accidentally swallowing affected water can lead to symptoms such as skin rashes; eye irritation; vomiting and; muscle and joint pain. Whilst symptoms are usually mild, in some cases, they can be severe.  Animals, including dogs, have died after going into the water at the shores of affected lochs.

Blue-green algae levels are routinely monitored during the warmer months and public water supplies are treated.  Warning notices are posted on affected waterways.

Eating outdoors

The summer months offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy barbecues and picnics. Following simple food hygiene advice can help protect you and your family from the risks of food poisoning.

If you plan to visit a petting zoo, farm or the countryside, it's a good idea to be extra vigilant about hygiene. Following good hand hygiene precautions and reducing risks from rural visits should prevent infections from contaminated food or animals.

Travelling safely

The Fit For Travel site provides information for people travelling abroad and has general advice on a range of health and travel related topic
including:

Parents and carers are also encouraged to do safety checks before booking holidays paying particular attention to water safety and balconies.

For more detailed advice on all these issues visit the NHS inform website.

And don't forget, NHS 24 is available via the NEW free telephone number 111.  Calling NHS 24 on 111 gives you access to help and advice you need, when it can't wait until your GP surgery reopens.