With the weather playing fast and loose with what ‘summer’ looks like, it’s possible that we may get a heat wave in 2019.  If that happens, there are various groups of people who are particularly vulnerable to extremes of temperature: children, people with disabilities (eg. heat problems, breathing problems, mobility problems or are unable to take steps to protect themselves), older people, people who work outside.

General advice for everyone includes:

  • keep hydrated – water and soft drinks are preferable to alcohol, and hot drinks are OK too
  • stay indoors during the hottest part of the day (11am to 3pm)
  • take a cool bath or shower, or splash cool water onto face and wrists
  • keep indoors cool by drawing curtains, and keeping windows closed if it’s too hot outside
  • avoid intense exercise
  • plan your activities according to the weather forecast
  • use high-factor sun cream to protect your skin
  • wear loose-fitting, light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing, sunglasses and a hat, when your’e outside


How much sun cream to use

The BBC produced a useful article about sun cream – how much, when, etc.

  1. Use more than the ‘6 teaspoons’ that is the commonly quoted number, if you’re wearing only a swimming costume
  2. Check the expiry date before using it
  3. Reapply regularly
  4. You’ll need another pair of hands
  5. And deal with sunburn by getting out of the sun, hydrating, and moisturising.


Heat stroke and heat exhaustion

The NHS has advice regarding dealing with a heatwave, and recognising and treating heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

Treat by cooling the person down:

  1. Move them to a cool place.
  2. Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
  3. Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
  4. Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too.

You should call 999 if the person:

  • is no better after 30 minutes
  • feels hot and dry
  • is not sweating even though they are too hot
  • has a temperature that’s risen to 40C or above
  • has rapid or shortness of breath
  • is confused
  • has a fit (seizure)
  • loses consciousness
  • is unresponsive