SUNSEEKERS on Wearside are being warned to take precautions as the warm summer weather finally arrives.
Many are now preparing for their holidays at home or abroad, with the school break less than two months away.
Although there have been heavy showers recently, the odd days of blazing sunshine have been a feature of the weather in Sunderland over the past few weeks.
Sunburn, heatstroke, and skin cancer can result from overexposure to the sun, with health experts getting the message across that enjoying the hot weather safely is important.
Dr Roberta Marshall, director of the North East Public Health England Centre, said: “We’re particularly concerned about frail older people and young children, particularly babies, but anyone who doesn’t take proper sun-safety measures will be at risk.
“Around 7,000 new cases of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) are recorded each year in the UK and over 1,000 die from the disease.”
Helpful advice includes drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration in hot weather, applying sunscreen with a factor of at least 15 and preferably higher, and using sunscreen to protect babies and small children and ensure they have plenty of fluids.
Wearsiders hoping to host barbecues have also been warned about the importance of protecting against food poisoning. Storing, handling and cooking food properly will minimise the risk, and avoiding cross-contamination.
Dr Marshall added: “Clean hands in the kitchen are vital in the fight against food poisoning, and food must be kept at the right temperature.
“Ensuring food is cooked properly will kill food bugs.
“It’s especially important to make sure poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through.”
Public Health England is also urging families who are planning visits to open farms to remember hand hygiene to avoid infection.
Dr Marshall said: “Visiting a farm is an enjoyable experience for both children and adults, but it’s important to remember that animals naturally carry bacteria – or germs.
“The route of infection is generally through contact with animal droppings. Germs can be ingested when people, especially children, put their fingers in their mouths.
“It is important to wash your hands using soap and hot water, and then dry them thoroughly as soon as you have finished touching the animals or surfaces at the farm – and always before eating or drinking.
“Children should be supervised when doing this as they are more at risk of the serious diseases which can be linked to farms.”