Hot weather advice for commuters

Surges in temperatures this week may affect commuters more than other people and a London-based GP is urging people to plan in advance to prevent pain later.

Dr Asim Hasan, Care UK’s regional medical director for primary care, said: “Those living and working in cities face a special set of challenges. Working in air conditioned offices and coming out into the midday sun for lunch may seem like a good idea but, without the right protection, it can lead to trouble.

“Sitting in a park with your sandwich is sociable and increases your levels of vitamin D. But for men, particularly those with thinning hair, a sun burned scalp and ears are not only painful but can lead to skin cancer. ”

Dr Hasan recommends that anyone going out in the sun should wear a high quality sun lotion with a higher sun protection factor. People with fair skin should always use a minimum SPF of 30 with a four-star UVA rating; those with skin which tans without burning should use the same if they’re worried about developing wrinkles and sunspots; while people with dark skin should use an SPF 15 with four stars.

Heat is as big a danger as sun and Dr Hasan says everyone travelling around town should carry water with them: “Humidity is deceiving. The day may not seem that warm, but when you’re in a crowded bus or train the humidity rises dramatically, pushing the temperature levels up and posing a danger to pregnant women and people with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or asthma.”

Dr Hasan’s top tips for surviving a hot city summer are:

  • Keep covered – hats and loose, cool clothing look good and allow you to make the most of the summer fun.
  • Use a good sun lotion and remember to get to those places you may miss that are often the most vulnerable, such as ears, foreheads and the back of the neck. For people with thin hair, use clear lotions so that you won’t have white marks on show.
  • Drink the right things. Drink lots of hydrating water and juices and keep a bottle with you when you’re travelling. Don’t be tempted to reach for a midday cold beer in the summer sun. A hangover is bad but a hangover teamed with heat exhaustion or sun-stroke is much worse. Wait until the day has cooled down before you head off to the pub.
  • If possible, avoid travelling at peak times. If you’re pregnant or have a medical condition that could be affected by the heat, talk to your employer about coming in earlier or later to avoid the worst times.
  • Be on the lookout for changes in your body that show you may be moving from being just uncomfortable in the heat to having a problem. Heat rash and muscle cramps are early signs of people being overwhelmed by heat, as are skin turning red and dry and headaches caused by dehydration.

Be on the look-out for signs that someone in your carriage on the train or your bus is struggling, and give them your seat. Your seat may feel very comfortable but if the person faints, your journey is going to take even longer.