IT'S not often we get to enjoy a heatwave in Scotland, so this week's weather could easily come as a shock.
Temperatures have already hit 27C in both the north and south of the country since the weekend, and it's set to get hotter over the next couple of days.
And further south, the temperature is forecast to go even higher, with a sizzling 35C being predicted in London.
It's great news for kids enjoying their summer holidays and for everyone who feels better for a bit of sun.
But it's important people enjoy the hot weather safely, and don't put themselves at risk from heat-related illnesses as temperatures soar.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy the summer sun safely:
DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS
DURING hot weather you need to make sure you're drinking more fluids than normal, regardless of how much you're doing.
And if you are doing manual work, make sure you're taking in two to four glasses of cold liquid every hour.
But try to avoid sugary drinks as these can cause you to lose more body fluid - and be aware that you can get stomach pains if a drink is too cold.
STAY OFF THE BOOZE
WHILE few things are more enticing than a cold beer during hot weather, drinking alcohol is a bad idea.
Alcohol dehydrates you, so you're doing yourself more harm than good.
Stick to soft drinks as much as you can, and if you are going to have a glass of wine or a beer, try to match each one with at least one glass of water.
REPLACE SALT AND MINERALS
IF you are doing manual work or exercising during the hot weather, remember that sweating heavily depletes the body of a lot of salt and minerals, which need to be replaced.
A sports drink is ideal for replenishing salt and minerals quickly, and will stop the effects of dehydration.
Such drinks will also help you recover from exercise a lot quicker.
WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHING
IT'S a good idea towear as little clothing as possible while you're at home as this allows your skin to breathe and your body to maintain the right temperature.
Lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing is also best for when you do venture outdoors.
If you wear dark or tight clothing, not only will you feel uncomfortable in the heat, but you'll risk raising your body temperature.
SLAP ON THE SUNSCREEN
THERE'S a risk of sunburn throughout the summer, but that risk is higher during heatwaves simply because people are more likely to bare their skin.
Wearing sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15 is vital, although it should be viewed as a last line of defence rather than your only precaution.
A wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses are also important, and you should put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going out.
Also make sure you re-apply sunscreen regularly, especially if you're going swimming.
SCHEDULE YOUR DAY CAREFULLY
HEED the phrase "mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun".
The sun is at its fiercest between 11am and 3pm, so it's wise to stay out of the sun if possible during these hours.
Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening when the temperature is slightly lower.
And if you do need to go out during the hottest times of the day, take a break somewhere shady as often as you can to give your body's thermostat time to recover.
LOOK AFTER YOUR PETS
REMEMBER it's not just us who suffer in the heat. Animals have it just as bad and need to be looked after.
Make sure you provide extra water for your cat or dog, and always keep your pet in a shady place.
And if you're out at work all day, make sure your home doesn't get too hot.
And never, ever, leave your pet in the car during this weather. Even with windows open, the temperature can quickly rise to lethal levels.
THIS is Scotland, so none of us is that used to working in a hot climate.
That means it's no use continuing to go about your daily work as if the weather is normal, especially if that involves being outdoors.
If you're walking somewhere, give yourself more time, and if exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, stop what you're doing and find a cool area to rest.
EAT THE RIGHT THINGS
IT'S not just a case of making sure you're drinking enough fluids, your diet can also make a big difference during a heatwave.
Rather than eating big, heavy meals, try to keep to eating small meals more regularly throughout the day. During the heat, they're often more palatable.
Cold dishes can also be more enjoyable, so salads are a good idea.
KEEP AN EYE ON EACH OTHER
WORKING in the heat can be dangerous, and if you're doing manual work, you need to make sure you and your colleagues look out for each other, as heat-induced illness can appear suddenly.
It's easy to ignore the warning signs that you're doing too much in hot weather, so take the advice of those around you.
MONITOR THOSE AT HIGH RISK
WHILE we all have to take care during a heatwave, there are some groups of people who are even more at risk from heat-related illness. They include:
Children up to the age of four who are sensitive to the heat and rely on their parents to make sure they are cool and drinking enough.
People over 65 can find it more difficult to compensate for the stresses brought on by heat and can be less able to respond to a change in temperature.
People who are overweight are at greater risk of heat sickness because they have a greater tendency to retain body heat.
Those who exercise a lot or who have a job involving heavy manual work risk becoming dehydrated, which can lead to heat sickness.
People who already have a health condition such as a heart problem or high blood pressure need to take extra care, as do those who take medications for certain conditions, such as depression, insomnia or poor circulation.