Summer is here so many people will be planning weekends away and summer day trips with their families. As temperatures increase its worth taking time to read the NHS sun safety advice, and get to know what health help is available nearby should it be required.
Many of us look forward to getting out and enjoying the hot weather but it’s important to remember that as temperatures continue to soar it can also be dangerous, knowing how to keep cool during these long hot periods can help save lives.
Viv Barker, Deputy Chief Nurse for NHS mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group:
“Take some time to think about what you can do to protect yourself, your family and friends during the hot weather. For some, including older people, those with underlying health conditions and young children, the summer heat can bring real health risks. That’s why we’d like everyone to look out for people you know who may be at risk this summer and where possible ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support. Common sense is really the key to coping in the heat.”
As part of the advice about coping in hot weather, make sure you:
• drink plenty of water and keep well hydrated
• stay in the shade where possible between 11am – 3pm
• take rest breaks if you’re out and about
• wear sunscreen above SPF15 and cover up in the sun.
Key advice in hot weather includes:
• Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as water, food and any medications you need.
• Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and try not to go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
• Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. Remember to take water with you if travelling.
• Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, older people, young children or animals.
• Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
• Keep rooms cool 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). Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
• Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
• Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
• Wear loose, cool clothing and a hat if you go outdoors. Wear UV sunglasses to reduce UV exposure to eyes and apply a sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection.
Where to get the right advice and treatment
As always, people are urged not to go to A&E or call 999 unless it’s an emergency. If you are in any doubt, NHS111 can help you get the right treatment or you can find more information on the NHS website.
Heatwave and protecting vulnerable people
Heatwave alerts are often announced during July and August, and there is some key advice from health experts to help everyone stay safe and well in the sun.
Vulnerable people are at the most risk when temperatures start to soar. As most heat-related health problems occur in the first two days of a heatwave (temperatures over 70 C), it’s important to make sure we are all prepared to reduce harm. We work with Essex County Council and other partners to prepare for heatwaves and alert the public.
Who is at risk?
The heat can affect anyone, but some people may be more at risk, including:
• older people, especially those over 75
• babies and young children
• people with a serious chronic condition, particularly dementia, heart, breathing or mobility problems
• people with serious mental health problems
• people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control (for example diuretics, antihistamines, beta-blockers and antipsychotics)
• people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example from gastroenteritis)
• people who misuse alcohol or drugs
• people who are physically active (for example soldiers, athletes, hikers and manual workers)
• homeless people
The links below provide further advice about how to protect yourself and others:
• NHS – being prepared in hot weather
• Livewell Essex – local advice for Essex residents
• Public Health England heatwave advice
• Met Office Heat-health watch describes the four levels of heatwave response
If you need medical assistance and it’s not an emergency call 111 or visit NHS.