Katarina Berankova.jpgForeign holidays are back on the cards and some of you will be jetting off abroad this summer to welcome the hot weather. But when it's too hot for too long there are health risks. 

If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot weather doesn't harm you or anyone you know.

It’s important to protect yourself from too much sun or heat, to carry water when travelling and to think of those, such as young children or older people, who may feel the heat more than others.

Many people enjoy hot weather but there can be serious health consequences from too much heat and vulnerable groups are at risk in particularly hot spells.

Follow our advice below, or visit the NHS website for some top tips on coping in hot weather.

Babies and young children can become ill during very hot weather. Their health can be seriously affected by:

  • dehydration
  • heat exhaustion and heatstroke
  • sunburn

Summer is traditionally a time for school sports days. Make sure you apply sun cream to your child at the start of the day and send them to school with a sun hat and a bottle of water.

Katarina Berankova, Clinical Director for Paediatrics at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said it is not uncommon to see children at the beginning of summer with moderate to severe sunburn.

She said: “Most typically, these are older children who get distracted in play forgetting about appropriate sun protection. It is very important that even in school age children and teenagers their parents keep reminding them to use the sunscreen and avoid direct sunlight when it is at its highest level in the middle of the day.

“Mild sunburns can be treated with application of creams containing Panthenol which provide cooling effect and help skin to recover. Any deeper sunburns (if forming blisters or if there are secretions from damaged skin) should be reviewed as soon as possible by GP or in A&E. They might require more specialised treatment and sterile dressing depending on the depth and extent of the sunburns. As they are also quite painful, appropriate painkillers should be used to decrease the distress of a child.”

Not treating sunburn can lead to problems later in life.

Katarina said: “Skin has a memory and every insult sustained during life will leave some trace in it. Repeated damage caused by sunburn can lead to a variety of chronic skin problems from loss of elasticity to malignant melanoma. It is therefore essential to protect the sensitive skin of the youngest ones as it is more prone to damage which in long-term run can lead to significant problems in later age.”


By the time you start feeling thirsty, you are already becoming dehydrated. To avoid becoming severely dehydrated you should drink a glass of water, and continue to drink water or non-alcoholic fluid at regular intervals throughout the day.

You should aim to drink around 1.5 - 2 litres (around 8 - 10 200ml glasses) of fluid per day to stay hydrated. 

Remember to drink more when you spend time in hot environments, or when you exercise or increase your activity levels.


There is no such thing as healthy tanning. Instead of tanning, we encourage everyone to own their own natural skin tone.

Sunscreens will not protect us completely from sun damage on their own. However, they can be useful for protecting the parts of skin we can’t shade or cover. This is why we recommend using sunscreens together with shade or clothing to avoid getting too much UV exposure.

We recommend buying sunscreens with a:

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 (UVB protection)

High star rating with 4 or 5 stars (UVA protection)

UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters ‘UVA’ in a circle which indicates that it meets the EU standard.

Low cost, highly rated 4 or 5 star sun protection products are avaliable at budget supermarkets. 

Seek Shade

Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.

Make sure you:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
  • make sure you do not burn
  • cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
  • take extra care with children

Tips for using sun protection properly

Make sure you put enough sunscreen on – people often apply much less than they need to. When your risk of burning is high apply sunscreen evenly and thickly. As a guide for an adult this means: Around two teaspoonfuls of sunscreen if you're just covering your head, arms and neck. 

Reapply sunscreen regularly throughout the day including ‘once a day’ and ‘water resistant’ products. Sunscreen can rub, sweat or wash off. It’s especially important to reapply after toweling dry. And reapplying helps avoid missing bits of skin.

Don’t store sunscreens in very hot places as extreme heat can ruin their protective chemicals.

Check the expiry date on your sunscreen before you use it. Look for a symbol on the pot with the letter M and a number which shows the number of months the sunscreen will last once it’s been opened.

Sunscreen shouldn’t be used to extend your time in the sun. Worryingly, research suggests people who use sunscreen to deliberately sunbathe are more likely to spend longer in the sun, and might even be more likely to get sunburnt. Higher factor sunscreens may lure people into a false sense of security.

No sunscreen, no matter how high the factor, can provide 100% protection.