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How to stay healthy this summer

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by Health Promotion, Ministry of Public Health, Gibraltar.

Most of us look forward to spending time outdoors in the warm months ahead – beach- barbecues-parties-water activities and fun all around.

However, it is important to remember to take simple precautions so that you can enjoy a safe and healthy summer.

Protect your skin from sun damage by regularly apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen regularly, and always after being in water.

Make sure to spend time in the shade when the sun is at its strongest (usually between 11am and 4pm); take extra care to protect babies and children. Make sure to cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat with a brim or flap that protects the ears and neck and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from damage. Never leave anyone in a closed parked vehicle.

Keep your environment cool by keeping windows exposed to sun closed during the day and open at night when the temperature drops. When indoors, stay in the coolest room in the house. Take a cool shower, bath or body wash if you feel too warm or use a damp cloth over exposed skin to cool off.

Infections can occur easily from soil and compost. If spending time outdoors gardening, make sure to wear gloves and wash your hands as soon as you finish and especially before eating or smoking.
(Bacteria present in potting compost can cause serious infections.)

Stay hydrated as the longer and warmer days can increase the symptoms of exhaustion and dehydration, especially for people with health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Eating and drinking habits often change during the holiday months.

Make sure to drink plenty of cool fluids regularly (don’t wait to get thirsty).

Go easy on alcohol and caffeine as these can leave you dehydrated; opt for fresh cold foods with high water content such as salads and fruit.

Barbecues are a favourite summer treat; it is important to avoid food poisoning by:

- checking meat is fully cooked before eating
- washing your hands with soap after handling raw food
- ensuring cold food is refrigerated

Insect bites and stings are common and most can be treated by applying a cold flannel or taking antihistamines (your pharmacist can advise you). If you or someone you know suffers a severe allergic reaction, seek urgent medical advice immediately.

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