Staying healthy in the heat
High temperatures can be dangerous, especially for the elderly, the very young, and people with chronic or long-term medical conditions.
If you or any one else feels unwell, drink water and go somewhere cool to rest. If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, weakness or cramps get worse or don't go away, seek medical help.
For more information pleas visit NHS Choices at http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/Heatwaveamberalert.aspx
Enjoy the sun but protect your skin this summer. That’s the message from leading hospital dermatologist Dr Barry Monk, who is urging those about to embark on their summer holiday to keep safe in the sun.
“Over exposure to the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer, so safe sun use is essential.” Says Dr Monk.
“Using a high protection sun cream is absolutely vital in staying safe in the sun, as is being careful near the sea and pool (water reflects the UV rays, making them stronger), wearing hats and covering up when the sun is at its hottest (between 11am and 3pm).
“Parents should also ensure children are not in the sun for long periods of time and are never in the sun without high factor sun cream, hats and tee shirts. Babies should be kept out of the sun completely.
“Don’t forget that it doesn’t have to be hot and sunny to get burnt, and you can get burnt in the UK just as easily as you can abroad, so apply sun cream on overcast days and when you’re out and about at home.”
As well as staying safe in the sun, people are also being urged to keep an eye on their skin to spot any changes that may need further investigation.
Dr Monk has this advice: “Check your skin regularly, particularly looking for any changes in moles. Changes in the size, colour and shape of moles, as well as any itching or bleeding, need to be investigated promptly by your GP.
“If you’re in any doubt about changes in your moles or your skin, get it checked out, don’t wait to see if it gets better on its own. Your GP will check your mole and if he or she believes it needs further investigation, the mole will be removed and tested for cancerous cells. In the event the mole is cancerous, early detection and treatment greatly increase your chances of a full recovery.”
The number of cases of the most dangerous skin cancer, malignant melanoma, has risen by 43 per cent in the last decade. In 2004 there were 8,939 cases diagnosed, compared with 5,783 in 1995 (source: Cancer Research).
For more information on skin cancer and safe sun use log on to www.cancerresearch.org and click on SunSmart.
The SunSmart campaign suggests these easier to remember tips:
*Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
Being out in the summer sun means there's an increased chance of encountering stinging insects. For most people, stings are painful but harmless. But some people can have an immediate allergic reaction to being stung, which can be very dangerous.
Seek emergency medical treatment if, immediately after being stung, you experience any of the following symptoms:
• swelling or itching anywhere else on your body;
• fast heart rate;
• feeling faint;
• difficulty swallowing; and
• swollen face or mouth.
These symptoms could mean you're having a generalised allergic reaction, which can be dangerous.
If you have been stung by an insect and there is a sting left in your skin, remove the sting as soon as possible with your fingers or tweezers, bee stings have a venomous (poisonous) sac so take care not to puncture it as you remove the sting.
To treat insect stings:
1. Wash the area with soap and water.
2. Put a cold flannel on the area.
3. Raise the part of the body that has been stung to prevent swelling.
4. Use a spray, or cream, containing local anaesthetic or antihistamine on the affected area to help prevent itching and swelling.
5. Take painkillers, such as paracetamol (if the sting is very painful).
6. Don't scratch the area, as it may become infected.
7. Consult your GP if redness and itching does not clear up after 48 hours.
Every summer, thousands of Brits break out their barbecues to enjoy the weather with some alfresco dining, but it is easy to forget simple food hygiene when cooking outdoors. Whatever you’re cooking up, keep food safe and healthy for friends and family with our top tips.
Beware of the Bugs!
E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter are all microscopic in size but can cause rather undesirable symptoms – at best a tummy upset, at worst a hospital stay. So here are some simple but important tips to avoid them when barbequing:
1. Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat;
2. Keep raw and cooked foods separate - use different utensils for each and never put cooked food on a plate or surface that has been used for raw meat;
3. Make sure frozen food is properly thawed before you cook it;
4. Don’t add sauce or marinade to cooked food if it has already been used with raw meat;
5. Wait until the charcoal is glowing red, with a powdery grey surface, before you start to cook.
Top tip! - If you’re barbecuing for lots of people, why not cook meat indoors and finish it off on the barbecue for added flavour!
Checking that your meat is properly cooked:
Barbecued food may look cooked when it isn’t - food that is charred on the outside is not necessarily cooked properly on the inside. To be sure that it is safe to eat you should:
1. Turn the food regularly, and move it around the barbecue, to cook it evenly.
2. Cut into the middle with a clean knife to check that there is no pink meat left;
3. Make sure the meat is steaming hot in the middle and that any juices run clear;
4. Check that the middle or thickest part of food is steaming hot, this will normally indicate that it is hot enough all the way through.
Top tip! If you are cooking a very large dish you may need to check it in more than one place, because some parts of the dish may not be hot enough.
If you want to put a healthier spin on the traditional barbecue follow these top tips:
• Choose lean cuts of meat and have smaller portions of high fat meats like sausages or ribs;
• Trim off fat and remove skin before cooking;
• Remove badly burnt bits before eating to try to reduce the level of carcinogenic chemicals which are found in blackened meats;
• Vegetables can be grilled and are a tasty way to fill up. Try barbecuing a vegetable kebab – peppers, onions and courgettes all work well;
• Fresh salads make a great accompaniment to any meal and are great in the summer;
• For something a bit different wrap peeled bananas in foil after sprinkling them with lemon juice, cinnamon and a teaspoon of brown sugar and barbeque until softened;
• Not keen on bananas? Finish off with a fruit salad or some fresh strawberries as a sweet treat.
Try to cool any food that will not be eaten within one to two hours and then store it in the fridge. Don’t keep leftovers for longer than two days and when you reheat it make sure that it is steaming hot all the way through. Be careful to not reheat food more than once.