Don’t sizzle in the sun during heatwave

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Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
With a spell of good weather expected, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are offering advice on how to cope during the heatwave. heatwave1Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, explained, “Being active and having fun outside is good for our health, but the sun can cause permanent damage to our skin. “Just one episode of sunburn, especially in childhood, doubles the lifetime risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.” There are a number of simple steps that will help protect against the sun’s harmful rays: • Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest – generally 11am to 3pm. • Cover up in the sun with a long sleeved t-shirt and a hat. • Wear sunglasses that have one of the following, CE and British Standard Marks, carry a UV 400 label and offer 100% UV protection. This will ensure they provide adequate protection from both UVA and UVB. Sunglasses should fit your face well and relatively snugly so that light doesn’t enter your eye from around the lens. • Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 for UVB protection and 4-star for UVA protection. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going out in the sun and re-apply at least every two hours. Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Coordinator at Cancer Focus NI, said, “It’s important to remember the care in the sun messages both at home and abroad. “Everyone is at risk of sun damage, but certain groups are particularly at risk, including those with fair hair and skin, babies and children, outdoor workers and people with a family history of skin cancer. She added, “It is therefore vitally important that all of us take the necessary steps to protect ourselves in the sun and actively reduce the risks of skin cancer.” Some tips for staying cool are: • Stay hydrated and drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. • Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors. • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler. • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter). • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water. • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need. • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
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