Get out the sun cream!

The country edged a step closer to a “barbecue summer” as the Met Office gave warning of an impending heatwave, with temperatures predicted to soar to 30C (86F) – the highest level since 2003, when about 2000 people died of heat related symptoms.

Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, Ewen McCallum, said: “After two disappointingly-wet summers, the signs are much more promising this year. We can expect times when temperatures will be above 30 °C, something we hardly saw at all last year.”

We all enjoy the warm weather but the elderly, those who are overweight, have hypertension or heart disease, diabetes, or suffer from chronic respiratory illnesses are susceptible to heat-related illness. Sunburn, sunstroke, dehydration and heat exhaustion can be life threatening. Infants and children are also more at risk because they are less able to control their body temperature than adults.

In order to stay well when the sun comes out, here are a few tips:

  • Use sun block on exposed skin. Burnt skin is not only painful at the time, it can lead to skin cancer, especially if you have fair skin and freckles.
  • Make sure you take plenty of fluids, either water or energy drinks, at regular intervals.  When you feel thirsty, it’s already too late.
  • Hard physical exercise elevates your temperature to start with so take care not to overdo it when playing sports.
  • Wear loose clothing, natural cotton is best, or tops designed to wick perspiration away from the body.
  • Avoid going out when the sun is at its most intense, or keep in the shade as much as possible.
  • When you feel like a drink, avoid alcohol and caffeine drinks which prevent your stomach from absorbing liquids and actually make you more dehydrated.
  • Watch out for signs of dehydration, which can include: headache, nausea, dry mouth and irritability. Rehydrate gradually with sips of water every 5 minutes, rather than drinking a pint of water at once.

Although the forecast is for a drier and warmer summer than average it does not rule out the chances of seeing some heavy downpours at times, such as we have seen during the last couple fo days. However, a repeat of the wet summers of 2007 and 2008 is unlikely.

Government Services Director, Rob Varley, said: “Our long-range forecasts are proving useful to a range of people, such as emergency planners and the water industry, in order to help them plan ahead. They are not forecasts which can be used to plan a summer holiday or inform an outdoor event.”

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