Stay Well in Summer - Top Tips
During prolonged hot weather (a heatwave), the main risks 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
Advice on how to reduce the risk associated with hot weather either for yourself or somebody you know can be obtained from NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk/summerhealth, NHS 111 or from your local chemist.
Who is most at risk?
A heatwave/prolonged hot weather can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:
- Older people, especially those over 75
- Babies and young children. Remember water safety and window safety.
- People with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems
- People with mobility problems - for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke
- People with serious mental health problems
- People on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
- People who misuse alcohol or drugs
- People who are physically active - for example, labourers or those doing sports
If you're worried about yourself or a vulnerable neighbour, friend or relative, you can contact the local environmental health office at your local authority. Environmental health workers can visit a home to inspect it for hazards to health, including excess heat.
Tips for coping in hot weather
- Keep rooms cool by keeping the windows shut and by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn't possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
- Open the windows for ventilation when it is cooler but ensure child safety by fitting child resistant window restrictors and be vigilant of child safety at all times.
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don't go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you're vulnerable to the effects of heat.
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice.
- Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee and cola) or drinks high in sugar.
- Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool.
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need. Avoid unnecessary travel.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
- Apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with 5* UVA protection and re apply according to instructions.
- Wear UV sunglasses, preferably wraparound, to reduce UV exposure to the eyes.
- Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes, a hat and light scarf
- Look out for others especially vulnerable groups such as older people, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
- Remember, people with asthma, heart disease and/or other chronic conditions are additionally health sensitive to ozone and/or heat.
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. www.nhs.uk/summerhealth
Look after yourself, older people and the young
Listen to the weather forecast and the news
Plan ahead to avoid the heat
Drink plenty of water, cut back on alcohol and caffeinated drinks
Dress appropriately for the weather
Slow down when it is hot
Know how to keep your home cool
Go indoors or outdoors, whichever feels cooler
Cars get hot, avoid closed spaces