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.
- Use more than the ‘6 teaspoons’ that is the commonly quoted number, if you’re wearing only a swimming costume
- Check the expiry date before using it
- Reapply regularly
- You’ll need another pair of hands
- 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:
- 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:
- Move them to a cool place.
- Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
- Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
- 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