A group of friends out walking in the sunny countryside

The great British summer is upon us and it’s time to make the most of the sunshine… when it appears!

And with parts of southern Europe experiencing a heatwave, here are a few essential first aid tips to help you enjoy a safer summer – wherever you go on holiday.

Picnic in the countryside

A birds-eye view of a family having a picnic

Countryside walks and a homemade picnic are best enjoyed in the sunshine. But all that delicious food can attract insects – some of which may bite or sting.

Bites and stings

What to do

  1. If someone has been stung and the sting is visible on the skin, use the edge of a credit card to scrape it away.
  2. Apply an ice-pack to the affected area to minimise pain and swelling.
  3. Watch for signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing and/or reddened and swollen, itchy skin on the hands, feet or face.

Stung in the mouth or throat? Ouch! Get them to suck on an ice cube or sip a glass of cold water to prevent swelling. If swelling does start to develop it could block their airway so call 999.

Getting worse?

Signs of a more severe allergic reaction include a rash, itchiness or swelling on a person’s hands, feet or face. Their breathing may also slow down.

What to do 

  1. Call 999.
  2. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.
  3. If they have a known allergy and an auto-injector, help them to use it or do it yourself following the guidance on the product.

More on allergic reactions

BBQ in the garden

A group of friends gather around a BBQ

Sizzling sausages on the BBQ in the garden is a fine way to spend a glorious day. But accidents can happen.


What to do

  1. Cool the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes. This will help to reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring. The faster and longer a burn is cooled, the less the impact of the injury.
  2. After the burn has been cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag to help prevent infection by keeping the area clean. It won’t stick to the burn and reduces pain by keeping air from the skin’s surface.
  3. Call 999 if the burn is more serious.

No water? No problem

If you don’t have immediate access to cold running water, you can use any cold harmless liquid like orange juice – or even a cold beer – to cool the burn as quickly as possible.

More on treating burns

Football in the park

A man plays football in the park

Cricket, football or frisbee in the park are top active ways to enjoy the summer sun. But all that running around leads to excessive sweating, increasing the risk of dehydration.


Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, headaches, and dizziness and confusion.

What to do

  1. Drink plenty of fluids. Water is usually sufficient but oral rehydration solutions or isotonic sports drinks are better as they also replace lost salts.
Sandy times at the beach

Two empty deck chairs on a beach

Heading to the coast where the sea breeze keeps things feeling a bit cooler is a great idea in the hot weather. But don’t forget that the sun will still gaze down upon you with all its might.

Prevention is better than cure so apply high factor suncream generously. But if you do get sunburnt, here’s what to do.


What to do

  1. Move into the shade.
  2. Have frequent sips of cold water. Cool the affected skin by dabbing with cold water.
  3. Apply after sun lotion to soothe the area.
First aid at your fingertips
  • Before you head out into the sunshine, be sure to download our free first aid app. Once downloaded you will have first aid info at your fingertips – without needing to connect to the internet.

This piece was updated on 8 August 2017. 

Photo credit: iStock.com