Hello summer!

Nobody likes being under the weather, especially in summer. Take a look at our handy hints and tips to help stay safe and healthy.

Medicine and first aid

Make sure you have some over-the-counter remedies for common illnesses and a well-stocked first aid kit. Your pharmacist can advise you on the best medicines for you and your family.

Good things to have include:

  • paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief (check the label or speak to your pharmacist to check it's suitable for you)
  • anti-histamines to help allergies
  • anti-diarrhoeal medication for diarrhoea
  • indigestion remedies such as an antacid
  • mild laxatives for constipation
  • a first aid kit with plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes for cuts and scrapes
  • medicines specifically for children (your pharmacist can advise on the most suitable ones to keep in the house)

Remember to always follow the advice on the pack and not to get too much, as medicines go out of date.

Read more about how to treat minor injuries like cuts, blisters and stings

Prescribed medication and travel

If you rely on regular medicines you should check you have enough for your holidays. Take your medications with you even if you're staying in Scotland. If you need to order more, order only what you need and in plenty of time. 

If you run out and your GP practice is closed, there are ways to get an emergency supply. Use our self-help guide for advice if you're having difficulty getting the medicine you need.

How to get medicines if you run out

BBQ food preparation and advice

Sunny weather means it's tempting to fire up the barbeque. However, it's important to follow the relevant food safety advice in order to avoid contamination of your food and avoid food poisoning.

To ensure food on the barbeque is safe to eat:


  • defrost meat thoroughly before cooking - ideally in your fridge
  • cook food in the oven before finishing on the barbeque to ensure it's cooked all the way through
  • keep meat and ready to eat foods - such as salad and bread - separate
  • regularly turn food and move it around to cook evenly
  • use separate utensils for raw and cooked meats


  • don't use a sauce or marinade for cooked food that has had raw meat in it

Stay safe in the sun

10–15 minutes of unprotected Scottish sun exposure is safe for all. You can reduce the amount of UV radiation damage from the sun by following these precautions:


  • keep covered up during the summer months - especially when the sun is at its hottest (11am - 3pm)
  • cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat with a brim or flap that protects the ears and neck
  • wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from damage
  • get into the shade when the sun is at its hottest (11am - 3pm)
  • use sunscreen of at least SPF (sun protection factor) 30 on any part of the body you can’t cover up and apply it as directed on the label
  • re-apply sunscreen regularly, and always after being in water

When buying sunscreen, the label should have: 

  • a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB 
  • at least 4-star UVA protection

Read more about sunburn

Hydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Keep cool when it's hot outside. 

In Scotland, we're tempted to make the most of the outdoors when the sun comes out. However, it's important to do it safely, being aware of the effects of the sun's heat and rays.

Follow these steps to stay safe:


  • drink plenty of cool fluids – don’t wait to get thirsty
  • eat cold foods with high water content such as salads and fruit
  • take a cool shower, bath or body wash
  • sprinkle water over skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck


  • don't drink alcohol – this can leave you dehydrated
  • avoid extreme physical exertion

If being in the sun is unavoidable, it’s important to recognise the signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke which can include:

  • headache 
  • feeling confused or dizzy
  • rapid pulse or fast breathing
  • body cramps (particularly in the arms, legs and stomach)
  • feeling sick or vomiting
  • feeling dehydrated or thirsty
  • pale, sweaty or clammy skin
  • a high temperature of 38C or above

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be shaded from the sun and cooled down. Heat exhaustion is not normally serious if the person is treated within 30 minutes and symptoms begin to improve.

Outdoor health

Getting out and about in the fresh air is great for our mind and body.

Avoid bugs and germs

By following some simple rules you can make the most of Scotland's countryside whilst avoiding bugs and germs.


  • Be tick aware
  • Drink clean water
  • Wash your hands
  • Clean up

In the garden 

The summer months are an opportunity for the green fingered amongst us to get out and enjoy our gardens.

Legionella bacteria can be present in potting compost. Gardeners can become infected by inhaling or ingesting the compost dust. Whilst the risk of becoming unwell is low, we recommend following Health Protection Scotland's few simple tips to help you during gardening:

  • wear gloves
  • wear a dust mask if you are working on anything dusty
  • wash your hands as soon as you finish
  • if you are going to smoke, wash your hands before doing so

Outdoor health

Read our article on outdoor health, for advice on water quality, hand hygiene and removing ticks.

Bugs and germs

Right care, right place

If you need more help, it’s important that you know how to get the right care, in the right place. The way we access urgent care has changed.

Visit our resource on the right care, right place for information on how access the correct local services in your area.