Summer safety from 999 Ted

Stay safe and healthy in the summer

Be barbecue safe

Going close to the barbecue is very dangerous as you might get seriously burnt. Also, it is not smart to play and run near the barbecue area as you might trip over, top the barbecue over and burn yourself.


Bites and stings

There are about 60 species of ant in the UK and the most common one is the black garden variety.  In warm weather you need to look out for the red, wood and flying ants because they are the ones who will sting you. You will feel a nip, but it’s not dangerous as ants have less toxin in their sting than wasps or bees. The only evidence you have been stung will probably be a pale pink mark. They can be annoying but they are very useful because they keep many species of birds alive (some species find ants very yummy!) and also improve the quality of the soil.

Ants attack

Use an ant repellent

Bedbug bites cause itchy red bumps. Some people have a serious skin reaction with blisters that can become infected.

Bedbug attack

If you spot tiny black spots on your mattress and bed, tell your parent or carer so they can call a pest controller.

A bee sting feels similar to that of a wasp. The difference is that the bee leaves its sting inside you and it is important to remove it to stop an infection. Bee stings are painful, but if you do not have an allergy to bees, they will not cause serious damage. If you are allergic to wasp stings, you will be rarely allergic to bee stings. This is because bee and wasp venom is different.

Bee attack

Stay still and calm while a bee buzzes around you. Bees love sweet drinks so be sure to look before you sip your drink at picnics and barbecues to avoid swallowing one! How can you tell if you or someone else is experiencing an allergic reaction? Look out for the following signs:

  • swollen eyes or lips
  • breathing difficulties
  • collapse and unconsciousness

Call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else is having the above symptoms. REMEMBER – if you are in a public place then you need to know exactly where you are so the ambulance can get to you as soon as possible.

The caterpillars of a brown moth, called the oak processionary moth, are a real pest! They move about trees in late spring and summer. Look out for their white silken webbing nests and the white trails they leave on branches and trunks. Caterpillars have thousands of tiny hairs that contain a toxin that can cause itchy skin rashes, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems on contact.

Caterpillar attack

Don’t touch or approach the caterpillars or nests; and don’t try to move the nests yourself. Get an adult to contact a pest expert or the Council. How can you tell if you or someone else is experiencing an allergic reaction? Look out for the following signs:

  • swollen eyes or lips
  • breathing difficulties
  • collapse and unconsciousness

Call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else is having the above symptoms.

If you are outdoors helping out in the garden, look out for flower bugs! Flower bugs have a tiny oval body, reflective wings and orange-brown legs. They are small but tough and can bite your skin quite aggressively! Look out for them on flowering plants in meadows, parks and gardens. The wounds are very itchy and often slow to heal.

Flower bug attack

Cover your bare skin and wear gloves to stop them nipping.

The bite of a large, hairy horsefly can be very painful. Horseflies tend to bite on warm, sunny days, especially around the head and upper body.

Horsefly attack

Their bite cuts the skin. This can be very painful and can easily become infected, so cover up and use insect repellent.

The harlequin ladybird is more aggressive than ordinary ones and they bite more. They can be red or orange with multiple spots. Look out for a white spot on their heads – red ladybirds never have white patches.

Harlequin ladybird attack

If you are outdoors helping out in the garden, wear gloves but try not to kill harlequin ladybirds as all ladybirds are good for the garden.

Midges (often also called gnats) are very common on damp and cloudy summer days. Midge bites are painful, cause itchiness and swelling.

Midges and gnat attack

Midges and gnats tend to attack in groups, especially in hot weather, so watch out and use an insect repellent plus cover up at dawn and dusk.

Mosquitoes can be very annoying as their bites cause intense itching and swelling.

Mosquito attack

Smells and bright colours attract mosquitoes. Cover up and use insect repellent at night if you are camping.

Most spiders are not dangerous but some species are capable of giving a nasty nip – usually after rough handling or if they become trapped in your clothes. You can tell it’s a spider bite because it leaves little puncture marks.

Spider attack

Don’t disturb spiders if you can help it – they tend to bite you only when they feel threatened.

These small spider-like creatures are not insects and can be found in woods, moors or thick grass.

Tick attack

Once they’ve latched onto you, ticks cling to your skin and suck your blood like a vampire. The bite doesn’t really hurt, but certain types of tick can transmit a condition called Lyme disease.

Remove a tick or get someone to remove it for you as soon as you spot one on your skin. Wear long sleeves and trousers when you are walking in woods, moors and overgrown areas and use a tick repellent.

For more advice ask your parent/carer to check on the NHS Choices website. If you get a circular rash spreading out from where you were bitten tell your teacher, parent or carer as they will need to take you to your doctor or a minor injury unit. Make sure your parent/carer knows where the nearest MIU (Minor Injury Unit) is located.

The information can be found on the NHS Choices website. 

A wasp can give a nasty sting if it feels threatened, leading to itching and swelling. Wasp stings can cause an allergic reaction if you have been stung more than once.

Wasp attack

Don’t try to swat wasps away. You’ll just make them cross and more likely to sting you. Instead, calmly and slowly move out of their way. Like other stinging insects, wasps love bright colours so wear white or neutral clothes to deter them. Look out for wasps’ nests in your home or garden and tell your parent or carer when you find them so they can have them removed by your local council or a pest control expert. How can you tell if you or someone else is experiencing an allergic reaction? Look out for the following signs:

  • swollen eyes or lips
  • breathing difficulties
  • collapse and unconsciousness

Call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else is having the above symptoms.

Keep cool

Be safe in the sun

The sun is good, in moderation, for your bones as it gives you vitamin D. But don’t overdo it! Be smart and ensure that you are well equipped for your outdoors activities.

Make sure you:

  • have a hat to protect you from ultraviolet radiation to the face, head and neck
  • protect your skin from sun burn by applying a high factor sunscreen
  • wear sunglasses if you can

By following these simple but effective rules you will avoid nasty sunburn and sun stroke.

Drink Up!

Drinking enough water, especially when it’s hot outside and you sweat a lot, is very important. If you don’t, you will become dehydrated and feel lightheaded.

Don’t wait until you are desperately thirsty to drink some water. Sip some water on a regular basis to keep the water level in your body from dropping too low.

How do you become dehydrated?

You can become dehydrated when your body loses more fluid than you take in.

When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way that it functions.

Water makes up over two-thirds of the healthy human body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins and keeps the skin healthy.

If you become dehydrated you will feel lightheaded (not a nice feeling!).

Ask your parent or carer to buy you a water bottle to take with you when you go outdoors in hot weather.

If you don’t like drinking water too much, fill up your bottle with fruit juice.



Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of body fluids and salts and it happens when the temperature outside and indoors is very hot.

If you or someone with you feels sick, faint and is sweating heavily, find a cool place where you can shelter and drink some water. Also, remove some clothes if you or the person with you is wearing too many.

You will start to feel better within half an hour.

How to avoid heat exhaustion

Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm. Stay indoors if you can if it’s too hot outside.



Heatstroke happens when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high due to extreme heat. The body can no longer cool itself and starts to overheat.

How can you tell if you or someone else is experiencing heatstroke?

Look out for the following signs:

  • dry skin, vertigo, confusion
  • headache, thirst, nausea
  • rapid shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and muscle cramp.


If you or someone else is having any of the above symptoms then ask your parent/carer to call your doctor for advice.

 To make it better then you or someone with you should:

  • immediately move the person to a cool area
  • open the windows
  • give water to drink (if the person is conscious)
  • shower their skin with cool, but not cold, water or cover their body with cool, damp towels or sheets




In the summer it can get quite hot and you might want to go for a swim to cool down. Swimming is fun and good for your health but be mindful of the danger!

Swimming pools

In swimming pools always have an adult with you who can supervise you. Never dive off the side of the pool because the water might not be deep enough and you will bang your head.

WARNING – Don’t go swimming in lakes, rivers, canals or reservoirs – some have unseen currents which can pull you under and the water is a lot colder than you might expect.

Here we explain the dangers

Lakes, ponds and rivers

These can be very deep and the water can be quite cold even in the summer. They can also hide all sorts of debris, broken glass and yukky and dangerous grass.


A reservoir is an artificial lake used to store water for community use. The water is very deep and very cold even in the summer. It’s very dangerous so do not attempt to swim in there!


  • Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
  • Make sure you never burn
  • Aim to cover up with a hat and sunglasses
  • Remember to drink water (or fruit juice) on a regular basis
  • Then apply protective sun lotion




Source for Bites and Stings section: NHS Choices