Beat the Heat- heatwave and summer advice
The Met Office has issues a Red Weather warning in many regions due to extremely high temperatures for Monday 18 July and Tuesday 19 July 2022.
After a cold and rainy winter, everyone welcomes sunny and warm days. However, when it is too hot for too long, the warm weather may pose some health risks and other challenges, particularly to vulnerable individuals.
Risks associated with a heatwave
The main health risks posed by a heatwave are:
- dehydration (not having drunk enough fluids)
- overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
- heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Who is most at risk?
- older people, especially those over 75
- babies and young children
- people with long term conditions (heart and mobility problems, on certain medications or with serious mental health problems)
Tips to be prepared for a heatwave
- Regularly check your local weather forecast and MetOffice for weather warnings
- Get advice from your doctor about whether your medication and/or your medical conditions may affect what you should do if it gets extremely hot.
- Check that you can store your medication at less than 25°C
- Use fans around your home, particularly in the bedroom to help you sleep
- Buy a reusable water bottle to take to work, in the car and at school to ensure you can hydrate at all times
- Stock up on food (for your household and pets), water and medicines to last up to a week so you don’t have to go out in a heat wave
- Consider buying cool packs to have in the fridge or freezer to help you cool down if needed
Top tips for coping in hot weather
- Drink plenty of water but avoid sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks as they can make you more dehydrated.
- Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling. There are plenty of places to
#refill for free in Essex. Download the Refill app to find businesses that will let you refill your bottle with drinkable water for free.
- If you prefer not to drink plain water, try making homemade ice lollies made with watered down fruit juice or squash or adding fruits such as lemons and limes to your bottled water.
- Encourage children to drink plenty and frequently.
- Freeze bottles of water overnight to make sure you have cool water throughout the next day.
Dehydration is a big problem for older adults. Here are some tips to increase their fluid intake:
- Frequently offer the older person a drink, preferably on a schedule.
- Offer beverages the person seems to prefer.
- Don’t expect older adults to drink a large quantity at a single sitting- small sips often are adequate.
- Make sure water is fresh and looks palatable — perhaps by adding a few slices of lemon or orange or ice cubes.
- Ice lollies or ice cubes may be offered to suck on, to ensure they stay hydrated.
- Address any continence issues that might be making the person reluctant to drink often.
How do I know if I am dehydrated?
It isn’t always to spot the signs of being dehydrated – what should I be looking out for?
What can I do to improve my hydration?
I might think I am drinking enough liquids, but how can I improve my hydration?
Watch how much alcohol you drink
- Eat before drinking: Make sure you eat before you go out or start your night somewhere that serves meals or snacks. It’ll provide more energy, and lessen your hangover the next day.
- Try pacing and spacing: Having a soft drink or some water between alcohol drinks slows the rate of your drinking.
- Drink smaller drinks: A large glass of wine in most bars could be the equivalent to a third of a bottle.
- Keep a check on how much you’re drinking: the ‘One You Drinks Tracker’ will help you keep track of how much you are drinking and spending.
- Look after each other: look after your friends and colleagues and make sure you know how you are getting home at the end of the night.
- Plan your journey home: Don’t leave it to chance—think about how you’re going to get home, and who with, before you go out. Make arrangements before you start drinking, and make sure you don’t get left to walk home alone.
Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health condition. It only takes a few minutes to make a phone call or to pop round to your neighbour’s/friend’s/family member’s home and check on them. By doing this you could end up saving someone’s life.
Keep checking to see if they’re staying out of direct sunlight during the middle of the day and that they’re aren’t putting their bodies under any unnecessary strain by doing the gardening or cleaning.
If you notice any signs that something isn’t as it should be, or if somebody complains that they’re feeling dizzy, weak, out of breath or really thirsty then it’s best to call NHS111 and seek medical advice immediately.
- Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors. Sometimes downstairs rooms may be cooler than upstairs rooms.
- Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you have to go out in the heat.
- Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day (12pm to 3pm), and instead choose early mornings or evenings to run errands.
- Do not exercise in the hot sun or during the hottest part of the day.
- Running cool water over your wrists will cool you down when you are feeling hot.
- Lightly splashing yourself with water or sitting with your feet in cold water also helps to keep you cool in the heat.
- For heat exhaustion: if you notice cold or flushed skin, heavy sweating, and/or dizziness, go to a cooler place, drink water and rest.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
- Look out for children in prams or pushchairs in hot weather. It is not advisable to cover a pushchair in a blanket as this will increase the heat inside.
- Take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into the water to cool down.
Sun safety advice
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB or at least 4-star UVA protection
- Aim to apply around 2 teaspoons of sunscreen for your head, arms and necks and 2 tablespoons if you are covering your entire body.
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to areas such as the back and sides of the neck, temples and ears.
- Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen at regular intervals, and after a dip in the pool.
Take care of pets
- Do not walk your dogs when it is hottest- instead take dogs for a walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Dogs are very prone to suffering from heatstroke.
- Never leave your dog in the car on their own, even with the windows open. If you see a dog in distress, the advice is to call 999 and ask for the police.
- Make sure your pets have access to fresh, cool water and a cool place to rest.
- Watch out for signs of your dog overheating, such as panting more than usual or lethargy.
- For more advice check out The Blue Cross
Bugs and bites
- If a sting is visible, carefully scrape it off sideways with your fingernail or a credit card- do not use tweezers.
- Apply an ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth if affected part of the body is red and swollen.
- If you notice swelling to neck and face or any difficulty in breathing, call 999 for an ambulance immediately.
Sprains and strains
We have high numbers of young people attending A&E during the summer months with minor sprains and strains but did you know that most of them can be treated at home with self-care techniques using PRICE therapy or paracetamol? A community pharmacist can also offer self-care advice.
- P – Protection
- R – Rest
- I – Ice
- C – Compression
- E – Elevation
Be BBQ safe
Barbeques and eating outside are one of summer’s greatest pleasure but every year people fall ill to food poisoning from barbecues which could be easily prevented. Before serving meat (burgers, sausages, kebabs, chicken and pork) that you have cooked on the barbecue, always check that:
- The meat is steaming hot throughout
- There is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part
- Meat juices run clear
- Consider cooking all chicken and pork in the oven first, then giving it a final finish on your barbecue.
- Don’t mix utensils used to prepare raw and ready-to-eat dishes
- Never reuse a marinade used on raw meat, unless you give it a thorough cook first.
- Ensure you wash your hands after handling raw meat or visiting the toilet.
Other Helpful advice in case of disruption due to a heat wave
- NHS- How to cope in hot weather
- Met Office-Weather updates
- Blue Cross- how to keep dogs cool in the summer
- Suffering with hayfever? Find out more on the NHS website and see Top tips for managing it on AllergyUK website
- Visit the Food Standards Agency website for more barbecue advice
- For more sun safety tips, visit www.nhs.uk