It’s September but the sun is still dangerous – here’s how to stay safe

It’s not enough to apply sun screen once a day in this heat.

Yolanthe Fawehinmi
Wednesday 06 September 2023 12:46 BST
Keep cool in the unexpected heatwave (Alamy/PA)
Keep cool in the unexpected heatwave (Alamy/PA)

Though the latest heatwave has been a pleasant surprise, it’s September and our brains are ready for autumn.

Different parts of the UK, including Cornwall, West Yorkshire and Wales, have experienced rising temperatures according to the Met Office, and more areas will be added to the list as the week goes on.

The hottest day of the year is also expected this week, so there’s no doubt that some of us will get caught out when it comes to sun protection.

Amy Bokota, meteorologist for the Met Office, said: “In total, there are 13 stations that have officially marked it [heatwave]. As you go through the next couple of days, quite a few extra will be added onto that.

“32C is expected, perhaps 33C on Thursday, which is expected to be the peak. It will then be 32C right the way until Sunday for some places in the south.”

The UK Health Security Agency has since moved its heat alert to amber for every region of England, apart from the North East, which a yellow alert is still in place for until September 10.

So, here’s how you can stay safe in the September sun…

Know the symptoms of a heatstroke“Heatstroke is a progression of milder heat-related symptoms,” said Dr Angela Rai, GP at The London General Practice. “It happens when your body’s normal mechanisms for regulating your temperature break down.”

Rai also stresses that heatstroke can quickly escalate if you are exercising outdoors and not cooling down for at least 30 minutes in the sun. And, if it ever does occur, it should be treated as a medical emergency.

Don’t exercise outdoors

Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, a healthcare director at Bupa said: “Exercising in the hot weather puts extra stress on our bodies, meaning it is really important to know your limits and pay close attention to what your body is telling you.”

Taking a cold shower can help increase the time it takes for you to start sweating. But you need to time it right.

“Avoid working out when the sun is at its peak – between 10am and 4pm” said personal trainer Ben Haldon, founder of My Coach. “Getting a workout done either first thing in the morning, or waiting until the sun has set will help you to say safe and avoid that exhausted post-sun feeling.”

Stay hydrated

Drinking a lot of water is a cheap and healthy way to stay hydrated, but other drinks can help with this too.

The NHS Eatwell guide recommends people should aim to drink six to eight cups or glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower-fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count.

Wear sun screen

It’s not enough to apply sun screen once a day if you’re out in this heat, or rely on the sun screen in your make-up.

According to the NHS website, you can get a sunburn in the UK, even if it’s cloudy. Therefore, it’s important to strike the balance and spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest, as sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer.

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