Heatwave advice

Posted: July 19, 2013

Keeping cool and looking out for the vulnerable

The heatwave warning has been raised to 'level three' by the Met Office for south-west England, meaning the temperature is likely to hit 30°C (86°F) for at least two days following.  The warm weather is set to continue into next week with temperatures in the high 20°C at the weekend, before rising to 30°C and beyond next week.

While most of us welcome the sunshine, the heat can be uncomfortable for some people and extremely dangerous for babies, children, the elderly, outside workers and people who are seriously ill, who are particularly at risk in the heat. Knowing how to stay cool is mostly common sense, but it's always worth being on the lookout for others who are more vulnerable. Remember to check up on friends, relatives and elderly neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

The main health risks of a heatwave

  • Dehydration
  • Overheating, making symptoms worse for people who have heart or breathing problems
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke.

Our top tips are:

  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
  • avoid physical exertion
  • wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
  • drink plenty of cold drinks
  • if you have a health problem, keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator
  • look out for others especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.

Remember that it can get uncomfortably hot indoors too. Try to keep your bedroom and living space cool, by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun and opening your windows at cooler times of the day and overnight when safe to do so. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.

During the hot weather we regularly check on our vulnerable patients, make sure room temperatures are set below 26 °C, ensure patients have access to cold water and ice and ensure medicines are stored in a cool place. 

For more information and top tips on staying cool visit NHS Choices www.nhs.uk

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