Summer survival guide

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For most people the summer is an enjoyable time - a chance to get outdoors and be active, hopefully enjoy some good weather and spend time with friends and family.

But we know that there are some risks associated with activities that are more common during the summer - and even the weather can have an impact on our health.

Below is lots of information, and links, to help you have a happy and healthy summer:

The Heat Health Watch Service is operated In England by the Met Office from 1 June to 15 September each year. The heat health watch forecast can be seen at - https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/heat-health/#?tab=heatHealth  

There is also a Heatwave Plan for England which is intended to protect you from heat-related harm to health and can be found online:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england  

Information and advice on heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be found on nhs.uk – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/

Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it isn't treated it can get worse and become a serious problem.  Babies, children and the elderly are more at risk of dehydration.

Further information and advice on dehydration can be found on nhs.uk – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/  

Information and advice on sun safety can be found on nhs.uk – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/

Information specifically for babies is also on nhs.uk – https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/childrens-health/how-can-i-keep-my-baby-safe-during-hot-weather/

PHE operates a network of nine broadband UV monitoring stations in the UK and three overseas.

The monitoring stations record hourly updates of the level of UV measured which are then posted on Defra’s UK-AIR website - https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data/uv-index-graphs

The Food Standards Agency have lots of information and advice on their website around food preparation and handling.

There are pages about bacteria that cause food poisoning:

It is important to wash all fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure they are clean and safe to eat.  Most people are aware of the importance of handling meat safely, but many consider the risk of food poisoning from vegetables to be low. 

NHS.uk also has information about how to correctly prepare fruit and vegetables – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-wash-fruit-and-vegetables/  

Open water swimming is growing in popularity in the UK but can increase the risk of gastrointestinal infections (diarrhoea and/or vomiting) as well as respiratory, skin, ear and eye infections. Most symptoms of these illnesses will generally be mild, caused by organisms such as norovirus, giardia and cryptosporidium. However, there is also a risk of more severe infections caused by organisms such as E. coli O157 which may cause severe gastrointestinal illness and leptospirosis, which can cause liver and kidney problems.

There is a PHE leaflet about open water swimming (swimming in lakes, rivers and reservoirs) – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/swim-healthy-leaflet  

Advice – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guidance-on-reducing-the-risk-of-illness-when-open-water-swimming  

Beware the ticks - ticks are small, spider like creatures that feed on the blood of animals, including people. During this feeding process, they can transmit pathogens that can result in infections such as Lyme Disease.

There is a dedicated page of resources including a toolkit to raise awareness of the potential risks created by ticks and tick-borne disease in England.

The page also includes a useful video, posters, leaflets and information about the tick surveillance scheme – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tick-bite-risks-and-prevention-of-lyme-disease  

Although an impressive sight when fully grown, giant hogweed is invasive and potentially harmful. Chemicals in the sap can cause photodermatitis or photosensitivity, where the skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight and may suffer blistering, pigmentation and long-lasting scars. For more information visit – https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=458  

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria (called cyanbacteria) that share some of the same characteristics as plants. Blue-green algae exist all over the world and are found naturally in many inland waters, estuaries and the sea.

The toxins which may be produced by algae are also poisonous to animals and can cause severe illness and death. Farmers and pet owners should ensure that their animals do not have access to affected water. For more information visit – http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/53916

Up-to-date information on air pollution levels and related health advice for specific area can be obtained via the Defra website http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk

You may be planning to leave the UK for your summer holiday, which may include some potential risks.

A list of travel health questions can be found on nhs.uk – https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/travel-health/  

An A-Z of countries with advice and information for travellers can be found on the Foreign Office’s travel advice page – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice  

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website also has health information and advice for travellers – https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheets