Keeping Safe in Hot Weather

It may seem strange to talk about hot weather in Britain but some of the forecasts indicate that we might well have a hot summer and we must be aware how to keep safe and stay well.
Calderdale Forum 50+ have kindly put together a fact sheet about just this issue which is reproduced below.

Bright, hot summer days are what many of us look forward to for the rest of the year – especially in cold, wet England! However, while we’re enjoying the balmy days of summer, we should not forget that the  temperature can get too high, that it can become uncomfortably hot, and for some, it can  become dangerously hot.

The evidence about the risks to health from heatwaves is extensive and consistent from  around the world. Excessive exposure to high temperatures can kill. During the summer  heatwave in Northern France in August 2003, unprecedentedly high day- and night-time  temperatures for a period of three weeks resulted in 15,000 excess deaths. The vast majority of these were among older people.

In England that year, there were over 2,000 excess deaths over the 10 day heatwave period  which lasted from 4 to 13 August 2003, compared to the previous five years over the same period.

How to Stay Cool

Stay out of the heat:

  • 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
    and light scarf
  • avoid extreme physical exertion
  • wear light, loose‑fitting cotton clothes

Cool yourself down:

  • have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
  • eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
  • take a cool shower, bath or body wash
  • sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck

Keep your environment cool:

  • keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, the elderly or those
    with chronic health conditions or who can’t look after themselves
  • place a thermometer in your main living room and bedroom to keep a check on the
    temperature
  • keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows
    at night when the temperature has dropped
  • close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun, however, care should be taken
    with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or
    putting reflective material in‑between them and the window space
  • turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat
  • keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air
  • if possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping
  • electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C – NOTE: Use of fans: at temperatures above  35°C fans may not prevent heat related illness. Additionally fans can cause  excess dehydration. The advice is to place the fan at a certain distance from people, not aiming  it directly on the body and to have regular drinks. This is especially important in the case of sick people confined to bed.

Longer-Term Plans

  • consider putting up external shading outside windows
  • use pale, reflective external paints
  • have your loft and cavity walls insulated – this keeps the heat in when it is cold and
    out when it is hot
  • grow trees and leafy plants near windows to act as natural air‑conditioners

Look out for others:

  • keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to
    keep cool
  • ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars
  • check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave
  • be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is
    needed

If you have a health problem:

  • keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator (read the storage instructions on the
    packaging)
  • seek medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking
    multiple medications

If you or others feel unwell:

  • try to get help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache;
    move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature
  • drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate
  • rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the
    legs, arms or abdomen, in many cases after sustained exercise during very hot
    weather), and drink oral rehydration solutions containing electrolytes.
  • medical attention is needed if heat cramps last more than one hour
  • consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s