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Be safe in the sun
Sun damage doesn’t just happen when you’re on holiday in the sun. It can happen when you’re not expecting it, for example when you go for a walk or sit in your garden.
Take care in the sun and be SMART:
Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
Make sure you never burn
Aim to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses
Remember to take extra care with children
Then use factor 15+ sunscreen
Apply sunscreen appropriate for your skin type and depending on the planned activity length to reduce the risk of Sunburn.
Know who is at risk
Workers in hot environments
People who are obese
People living with diabetes
People with kidney, heart, or circulation problems
Babies are at high risk
Those that have inactive or inefficient sweat glands are particularly susceptible to sunstroke. Avoid activities that force your body to retain heat, especially when it is hot outside like exercising, over-bundling your baby, or being out in the heat for too long without water.
Pay attention to the weather
If the temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius or close to it, be cautious. Avoid taking babies and elderly people out into the heat.
Wear light clothing appropriate for the weather.
Stay hydrated and replenish fluids
Drink water to stay hydrated. Watch your urine colour, it should stay a light yellowish colour.
Don’t drink caffeine. This will tell the body to become stimulated when what it needs to do is calm down. Though black coffee is 95% water, the effect of caffeine on the body is harmful when the person has signs of sunstroke. The heart will beat harder and faster.
Avoid alcoholic drinks outdoors on hot days. Alcohol can interfere with body temperature by constricting your blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow to keep you warm.
Our first instinct is to take medicine when we don't feel good. If you are suffering from sunstroke, certain medications will only make the situation worse. Don’t use blood thinning medications for fever like Aspirin. These can be harmful during a heatstroke because they may increase bleeding, which can be an issue with blistered sunburns. Medications for a fever work well on someone with an infection, not on someone with heat stroke.
Caring for Sunstroke
Cool the person down
If you find someone suffering from sunstroke and unconscious call the emergency services on 999. If they are conscious, get the person to a shady, cool (preferably air-conditioned) area. Get the person into a cool bath, shower if possible. Avoid very cold temperatures. The same goes for using ice, which may also mask the signs of a slow heartbeat and cardiac arrest. You can put a cool, wet rag on the back of the neck, on the groin, and/or under the armpits. If you can, mist and fan the person to promote evaporative cooling. Either mist the person with cool water or place a wet sheet over their body before fanning them; this will cause evaporative cooling, which is faster than simply wetting the person. If you are still concerned call your GP or 111.
Have the person stay calm
When the patient stays calm, the patient can help. Minimize agitation by breathing slowly and steadily. Focus on other things besides your sunstroke. Anxiety will only make your blood pump faster, raising your temperature a little more. Read How to Calm Yourself During an Anxiety Attack for more pointers.
Massage the person’s muscles. Massage gently. Your goal is to increase the circulation in the muscles. Muscle cramps are one of the early symptoms of sunstroke. Usually the calf areas are most affected.
Lay the person down.
One of the most prominent effects of sunstroke is fainting. Protect against fainting by laying the person down. If the person has just fainted you can try to elevate the legs to increase the return of blood to the brain and often the person will recover quickly.
In an unconscious person, particularly where you have called 999 or where a faint is prolonged, turn them onto their left side with their left leg bent for stabilisation. This position is called the recovery position. Check the persons mouth for vomit, so they do not choke.
The left side is the best side for blood flow because our hearts are on that side.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of a number of diseases. This could be overcome by going out and enjoying the sun.
Vitamin D has several important functions in the body including keeping bones and teeth healthy. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Good sources of vitamin D
We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin, in reaction to summer sunlight. However, if you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt.