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anses

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

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Updated on 21/06/2017

Survival tips for hot weather

Recommendations for a happy, healthy and safe summer

Keywords : Heatwave

Summer is here at long last, and barbecues, lounge chairs and parasols have found their way back into our gardens! To take full advantage of the warm weather and the summer sun, your best bets are sunglasses, sunscreen, plenty of water to drink and eating light. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the heat, so be sure to watch over them carefully. And don't forget your pets! They too can suffer from dehydration. Here are some recommendations to help you have a happy, healthy and safe summer.
 

Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat: precious allies to protect you from the sun's rays

While the sun is beneficial in that it enables the body to synthesise vitamin D, it can also have harmful short-term effects such as sunburn, as well as serious long-term effects (it is a risk factor in the development of skin cancers).

So protect yourself by avoiding sun exposure between noon and 4 pm. When outside, we recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and applying sunscreen hourly.

 

Modify your eating habits

Sun and hot weather increase the risk of dehydration. For this reason, it is recommended that you drink often, without waiting until you become thirsty. You can vary your liquid intake by adding flavoured syrups to your water, drinking iced tea or eating chilled soups. However, you should limit your consumption of products containing alcohol, caffeine or sugar. Instead, choose foods with a high water content (watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, sorbet, yoghurt, etc.).

Monitor children carefully: never leave them in hot or sunny areas, especially in closed spaces (a car, garden shed, etc.). Have them drink regularly, without waiting for them to express thirst - at least once every hour during the day as well as when they wake up during the night. If they are old enough to eat a diversified diet, provide them with water-rich foods (fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit compotes, dairy products, etc.).

The elderly also require special attention. It is recommended that elderly people drink the equivalent of at least 8 glasses of water a day (800 mL), the ideal amount being 13-14 glasses a day.

 

 

Outdoor work and sporting activities

If you work or practice a sport outdoors, you are especially vulnerable to dehydration when the outside temperatures are high. Make sure your get enough water and minerals to compensate for fluid loss through perspiration and protect yourself from the heat as much as possible.

 

Be careful not to break the cold chain

Storing food at cold temperatures slows the growth of micro-organisms while preserving its nutritional value and taste. Yet the effectiveness of the cold chain is not dependent on the refrigerator's temperature alone. It is also important to maintain a constant cold temperature.

When hot weather arrives, be especially vigilant when transporting foodstuffs from the place of purchase up through consumption. Recommendations include: purchasing the most perishable products and frozen foods last when shopping, using insulated cooler bags for transport, monitoring the temperature of your refrigerator, complying with use-by dates, etc.

 

Enjoy risk-free barbecues

Summer is synonymous with barbecues and picnics with friends and family. However, each year, ANSES observes a resurgence of food poisoning cases in the summer months.

Here are some recommendations for enjoying barbecues without risking food poisoning:

  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
  • Always wash and dry your hands before and after handling raw meat.
  • Use one cutting board exclusively for raw meat and another board for all other foods, in order to avoid transferring micro-organisms from the raw meat onto other foods (raw salad ingredients, for example).
  • Cook meat thoroughly.
  • Never serve cooked meat with the same dishes, platters or utensils used for cutting or carrying raw meat.
  • Never leave foods outside or at room temperature for more than two hours before returning them to the refrigerator and do not save perishable picnic leftovers.
  • Clean your barbecue and its racks regularly.

 

 

Activities to stay cool

When the weather is hot, you should modify your activities and those of your children. When possible, visit naturally cool or air-conditioned spaces: shopping centres, cinemas, basements, museums, historical monuments, etc.

 

Advice for staying cool at home

To keep your home cool, close shutters and blinds during the hottest hours of the day, and air your home at night.
Avoid using electrical devices (lamps, halogens, TVs, computers, etc.) in order to reduce additional sources of indoor heat.
 
 

Don’t neglect your furry friends

Pets also suffer from the heat. To reduce the risk of dehydration, make sure your animals always have enough fresh water to drink and shelter from the sun, and never leave them in a parked car.

Veterinary medicinal products should be stored in a cool place and vaccines should be kept in the refrigerator.