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anses

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

What is the best way of coping with very hot weather?

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News of 08/07/2016

It was a little late this year, but summer has finally arrived. Barbecues, deck chairs and parasols have all reappeared in our gardens. ANSES offers its advice on how to enjoy the benefits of the sun without the dangers.

 

Protect yourself effectively

The sun has beneficial effects on health, in particular because it enables the body to manufacture vitamin D. But it can also cause adverse effects such as sunburn or, in the longer term, the development of skin cancers.

To protect yourself, you should stay out of the sun between midday and 4pm. During outdoor activities, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen (apply every hour) are essential.

 

Adapt your diet

The sun raises the temperature, which increases the risks of dehydration. It is therefore necessary to drink regularly, without waiting until you feel thirsty. To vary your fluid intake, you can drink water flavoured with squash, iced tea or chilled soups. However, you should limit your consumption of sugar-based products, alcohol and caffeine. Preference should also be given to foods with a high water content, such as watermelons, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, sorbets, yoghurts, etc.

Particular attention must be paid to children: do not leave them in full sun, especially in enclosed places (cars, garden sheds, etc.), and offer them frequent drinks, at least every hour during the day and when they wake up at night, without waiting for them to show they are thirsty. If they are old enough to eat a diversified diet, preferably offer them foods with a high water content (fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit purees, dairy products, etc.).

The elderly also require special attention. They are particularly recommended to drink at least the equivalent of 8 glasses per day (800 mL), with the ideal amount being daily consumption of 13 to 14 glasses.

Outdoor work and activities promote the risk of dehydration when the ambient temperature is high. The Agency recommends ensuring that water and mineral intakes are sufficient to compensate for losses. 

 

Respect the cold chain

Food must be kept cool to slow down the growth of micro-organisms while preserving its nutritional and organoleptic qualities. The effectiveness of the cold chain depends not only on the temperature level of refrigeration, but also on maintaining a continuous cold temperature.

When hot weather arrives, you therefore need to be especially vigilant, from the place where the food is purchased right through to its consumption. It is best to buy perishable or frozen produce at the end of your shopping trip, use insulated cooler bags, check the temperature of your refrigerator, comply with use-by dates, etc.

 

Make the most of your barbecue

Summer is synonymous with enjoying a barbecue or picnic with family or friends. However, each year ANSES observes a resurgence of cases of food poisoning during the summer.

Here are a few recommendations to help you enjoy your barbecue while avoiding the risk of illness:

  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
  • Wash and dry your hands before and after handling raw meat.
  • Use one chopping board for raw meat and another for other foods, to avoid transferring micro-organisms from the raw meat to raw vegetables, for example.
  • Cook meat thoroughly before consumption.
  • Avoid reusing the same dishes and utensils used to cut or transport raw meat for serving the meat once cooked.
  • Do not leave foods for more than two hours at room temperature before refrigeration, and discard perishable picnic leftovers.
  • Clean your barbecue and grill regularly.

 

 

Protect the health of your animals

Animals are also sensitive to heat. To limit the risks of dehydration, ensure they have unlimited water and shelter from the sun, and never leave them in a parked car.

Veterinary drugs must be stored in a cool place, and vaccines kept in the refrigerator.

 

A few ideas for keeping cool while active!

When it is very hot, you need to adapt your activities and those of your children. Opt to spend time in buildings that are naturally cool or air-conditioned (shopping centres, cinemas, basements, museums, ancient monuments, etc.). 

 

How to keep your home cool ?

Keeping the blinds and shutters closed during the hottest hours of the day and airing rooms at night keeps your home cool and pleasant.

You are also recommended to limit the use of electrical devices (lights, halogen, TV, computer, etc.) to reduce internal sources of energy.