Look after yourself and your family this summer

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With the warmer weather now here, this is the time when we start to look forward to summer activities, such as going on holiday or relaxing in the park or the garden.

And while we may have no hesitation in applying sun block when we are on the beach abroad, it is sometimes easy to forget that it is just as easy to get sunburnt here in the UK.

The most important thing to remember about staying safe this summer is to think ahead and apply sun cream before exposing skin to the sun.

Don’t wait until you start to burn and begin to feel red and sore before thinking about applying cream or moving to a shadier spot, as damage may already have been done.

Sunburn in childhood is also more damaging than it is for adults, so it is extremely important to make sure that children are protected when out in the sun.

Follow these tips to avoid sunburn and to keep your whole family comfortable and safe in the sun:

· Avoid the sun during the middle of the day (12pm-3pm) when it is hottest

· Wear sunglasses which protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays

· Always put a bottle of sun cream and your sunglasses in your bag if you are going for a day out or an afternoon in the park

· Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight

· Check any moles you have for changes in colour, size or texture and contact your GP if you notice any differences

· Wearing a wide brimmed hat is a good way to keep the sun from your head

· Drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated

However, it is important to remember that although over-exposure to the sun can be dangerous, a small amount of time spent in the sun can prove beneficial by providing vitamin D to the body.

But beyond the immediate effects of sunburn, as painful as they are, prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet light in sunlight can also result in more long term skin damage, with skin looking more aged and wrinkled.

One of the most serious effects of sun damage is skin cancer, which is also known as melanoma.

Research from Cancer Research UK has revealed a strong link between sunburn and melanoma.

People who develop skin cancer are twice as likely to have been badly sunburned at least once in their lives.

As well as sun protection, there are other things to consider before you sit back to enjoy your holiday.

· Holidays abroad

Unfortunately sometimes accidents can happen and illness can strike.

As well as taking out travel insurance with adequate protection, you should also apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are travelling within the European Economic Area.

The EHIC lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

It will cover you for treatment that is needed until your planned return home.

It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.

It is free to apply for the EHIC, so be aware of unofficial sites that try to charge you to apply.

The official site can be found at ehic.org.uk

· Travel vaccinations

Some vaccinations are needed when travelling to foreign countries where there is a high chance of contracting a disease.

Conditions such as yellow fever, rabies and cholera may be prevalent in areas such as Asia, Africa and South America, so it is important that you get medical advice on which vaccinations you may need before you travel.

More information can be found on the NHS choices website – nhs.uk