A summer's day: Stay cool, stay healthy

The sun is out and it's off with our clothes – but health agencies urge us to stay cool, as heat can kill

The Great British Summer has finally arrived in all its gold-hued, ice-cold-beer swilling, barbecuing glory. As we swoon, swelter and roast in temperatures above 31 degrees in some parts of the country, the traditional signals of the basting season arrived this week – a hosepipe ban and government warnings about mad dogs and people burning themselves in the midday sun.

As thoughts of grey skies and unseasonal storms vanished and the warm weather spread a sense of goodwill, along came the Met Office and the Health Protection Agency with warnings for the young and the elderly to take extra care.

Yvonne Doyle, regional director of public health and the Government's heatwave adviser, said: "Younger people see the hot weather as a cause for celebration, tanning and barbeques – but for older people and those with long-term health problems, it can be very serious and cause unnecessary deaths."

So, stock up on cool drinks – water is best – and prepare a cool room in the house. Apply sun cream and avoid leaving pets in the car.

The NHS advises staying in the coolest rooms of the house as much as possible, spraying or splashing faces and the backs of necks with cold water several times a day, and wearing loose, cotton clothes. Fortunately, the forecasters predict that temperatures will start to cool tomorrow.

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