How to be safe in the summer and treat sunburn

Volunteer in a new uniform

Us Brits are known for getting out our short summer clothes as soon as possible to lap up the summer sun. But no one wants to look like a tomato! The sun can be harmful, and sunburn is the most common problem, so make sure you stay safe and know what to do.

What is sunburn?

Sunburn is damage to the skin caused by too much exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight. If you use tanning beds, the light they give off also has UV rays in it, so they can cause skin damage too.

If someone is sunburnt they will get red and painful skin. Later, the skin can peel and, in severe cases, form blisters. These symptoms may not show straight away: they can take several hours to appear.

The best way to not get burnt is to avoid too much exposure to the sun.

Top tips for avoiding sunburn

  • Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest
  • Wear high-protection sun cream, and reapply throughout the day
  • Cover up: wear lightweight clothing and a sun hat.

If someone does get burnt, read the steps below to make sure you know what to do.

How to treat sunburn

  • You need to prevent any more damage to the skin and relieve any soreness
  • First, move the person out of the sun and into the shade, or indoors if possible
  • Encourage them to keep taking sips of cold water
  • Cool the skin by sponging it gently with cool water, or by soaking the sore skin in a cold bath or shower for no more than ten minutes. Repeat this if it helps ease soreness
  • If the burn doesn't blister, then it is mild. Apply calamine lotion or after-sun lotion to help soothe the skin. Once this has soaked in, cover the skin with light clothing or a towel
  • If the burn blisters, then it is severe and you need to get medical help as soon as possible.