NHS England’s most senior nurse has urged people to stay sun safe this weekend.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, warned too much ‘fun in the sun’ could end with ‘a day stuck in hospital’.
This comes as parts of the country are expected to reach temperatures of up to 33°C (91°F) on Saturday.
This puts Britons at risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and sunstroke, which landed thousands in hospital last year.
Ms May, who will be celebrating her daughter’s birthday with a garden party this weekend, is urging people to ‘take simple precautions’ like stocking up on sunscreen and staying hydrated.
Parts of the country are expected to reach up to 33°C (91°F) on Saturday (stock)
‘Like lots of people I’m looking forward to having fun in the sun with family and friends this weekend’, Ms May said.
‘But nobody wants to spend a pleasant day stuck in a hospital or urgent treatment centre.
‘So whether you’re going to be out in the garden like me or heading off to Glastonbury, it’s really important to take simple precautions like drinking plenty of water, using high-factor sunscreen and taking allergy medication if you need it.’
Almost 3,000 people were admitted to hospital with heat-related ailments in 2017-to-18.
This included 632 cases of severe sunburn, which can leave skin blistered, and people feeling hot and shivery.
Left untreated, heartburn can develop into heat exhaustion, which left 100 people needing hospital treatment in 2017-18.
Heat exhaustion can cause people to develop extreme thirst, cramps, nausea, dizziness, fast breathing and a temperature of 38°C (100°F) or above.
And if heat exhaustion is ignored it can turn into heat stroke.
This occurs when the body dangerously overheats, with the internal temperature rising to 40°C (104°F) or more.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency, with 223 people ending up in hospital with the life-threatening condition in 2017-18.
Symptoms include vomiting, rapid breathing, a racing heart rate, flushed skin, slurred speech and agitation.
In severe cases, sufferers can suffer delirium or seizures and may even end up in a coma.
Ms May is particularly encouraging people to look after their vulnerable loved ones, such as young children and the elderly.
Those with mobility problems, such as Parkinson’s patients, are also more at risk of the sun’s rays, she added.
And people who take medication that affects their ability to sweat or regulate their temperature should also be careful.
Thousands of people ended up in hospital in 2017-to-2018 with various summer ailments
But it is not just UV rays that can damage our health. Summer sunshine also triggers allergies.
Nearly 3,000 people went to hospital in 2017-18 with hay fever.
Although hay fever sufferers endure just watery eyes and a runny nose, the common condition can turn serious if it causes anaphylaxis.
This occurs when the whole body reacts to an allergen, like pollen. It can be deadly if it leads to a fatal fall in blood pressure.
And 5,700 required hospital treatment for insect stings in 2017-18, which can also trigger an anaphylactic reaction.
Although summer ailments can be serious, Ms May encourages those with mild discomforts to use over-the-counter remedies or seek the advice of a pharmacist, rather than rushing to A&E.
People should also ‘talk before they walk’ by calling the non-emergency NHS number 111 for advice. They can also check their symptoms on nhs.uk.
‘While the NHS will always be there for those who need it, people with minor illnesses and injuries can help frontline staff provide care quickly for those in the greatest need,’ Ms May said.
‘People should talk before they walk, and join the hundreds of thousands getting fast and free advice on the best course of action for them from the NHS.uk website or 111 phone line.’
The number of people who turned to the health service’s website for advice rose by more than two thirds last year, with almost a quarter of a million Britons logging on.
The ‘sizzling summer’ of 2018 was the hottest England has ever experienced and the joint warmest for the UK as a whole, tied with 1976, 2003 and 2006.
Temperatures peaked on July 26 in Faversham, Kent, at 35.3°C (95°F).
More than 150,000 people sought advice online for heat rash in July last year, up from 128,000 that May.