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Friday, August 7, 1998 Published at 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK


Keep your head in the heat

The Health Education Authority warns of the dangers of the deep fry

The British summer may have taken a long time to come and it may only last for a week. But the desperation for sun may drive some to extremes which may prove dangerous. BBC Health News offers 10 tips on how to stay safe in the sun:

1. Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured clothes to keep cool in the heat. Dark, heavy clothes absorb heat, but remember that some thin materials do not provide a sufficient barrier to the sun's dangerous UV rays.

2. Cover your head if possible and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. A wide-brimmed hat can protect the most exposed part of the body - the head.

3. Take care not to burn.

4. Avoid the midday sun. Try to find a shady spot when the sun is at its hottest.

5. Use a sunscreen of at least Sun Protection Factor 15. Despite previous fashions for suntans, tanning actually damages the skin and causes premature ageing. Reapply the sunscreen regularly, for example, after you go swimming.

6. Take plenty of fluids, especially if you are exercising in the sun, and replace salt and minerals lost through sweating. Avoid very cold drinks as these can cause stomach cramps. Alcohol absorbs fluids so cut down during the hot weather or increase your intake of other fluids.

7. Take things slowly and adapt to the pace of life in the sun. If you feel breathless or your heart is pounding, stop what you are doing and try to cool your body down, for example, by taking a cool shower. Rest if you feel faint or dizzy.

8. Those most at risk from the sun include children under four, people over 65 whose bodies adapt slower to the change in temperature, overweight people whose bodies tend to retain heat more, people who do a lot of exercise and people who are ill. Ensure that young children are safely covered up.

9. Avoid hot, heavy food.

10. Look after pets in the heat. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water, placed in a shaded spot, and do not leave them in enclosed spaces such as cars which may be exposed to the sun.

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