by Thomas Cox
Vulnerable people, such as the elderly, and those with heart and lung conditions can find normal activities a strain when temperatures get this high.
But high temperatures, indoors and outdoors, can also pose a risk to anyone’s health over such a sustained period.
So here is our advice for how everyone can cope in this heatwave.
Why is a heatwave a problem?
The main risks posed by a heatwave are:
- dehydration (not having enough water)
- overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
- heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Tips for coping in hot weather
- look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
- drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated
- close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
- never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
- try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
- adhere to any and all “No Swimming” signs if you are going into the water to cool down
- walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat
- avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
- wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
- make sure you take water with you if you are travelling
Swimming in pools
Adhere to any and all “No Swimming” signs.
The signs are there for a reason – whether they signal private property, polluted water conditions, dangerous wildlife or water plants, or dangerous swimming conditions.
It weather like this a swim to cool off can be very tempting, but this can put you at risk of cold shock.
Cold shock is the body’s reaction to sudden cold. It begins with the gasp reflex and continues with uncontrolled hyperventilation. Do not to jump into water unless it’s over 15°C or you’re acclimatised.
Be careful with UV (ultraviolet radiation)
Ultraviolet radiation, or UV, comes to earth from the sun.
Small amounts of UV is good for you as it helps our bodies make Vitamin D. However, too much can damage your skin, cause sunburn and even lead too skin cancer.
Suncream (at least SPF 15 with UVA protection), sensible clothes and sticking to shaded areas can help reduce your exposure to UV.
For more information see Public Health’s blog post – Nine things you need to know about UV (ultraviolet radiation)
How do I know if someone needs help?
Seek help from a GP or contact NHS 111 if someone is feeling unwell and shows symptoms of:
- chest pain
- intense thirst
- cramps which get worse or don’t go away
Get the person somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink.
Find out about the symptoms of heat exhaustion.