The weather is set to be hot this week, with temperatures over 30 degrees. While it’s lovely to have some sunshine when it’s hot for too long, there are health risks.
It’s important that everyone takes steps to stay safe in the heat, but there are some groups of people who are particularly vulnerable such as older people, babies and young children. Some medical conditions can make you more susceptible to heat so if you or someone you know has a serious long term condition, serious mental health problem, a mobility issue, is taking medications which affect sweating and temperature control, or misuses alcohol or drugs remember to take extra care. Those who are physically active such as labourers or people doing sports can also be at greater risk.
Les Bailes-Barrett (pictured above), a Matron at our Emergency Department at Queen’s Hospital advises “Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Water or low sugar squash is a good option. You can also have fruit juice, but remember that it can be high in sugar so don’t have too much. If you’re exercising, remember that you will need to take on more fluids too.”
“Be somewhere as cool as possible; close your blinds during the hot parts of the day to keep your room cool. Oscillating fans are a good idea to keep air moving around the room.”
If you have a friend, relative or neighbour who is particularly vulnerable to hot weather it’s important to check up on them to make sure they’re coping. Les highlights that older people can become dehydrated more easily: “Touch base with them to see if there is anything they need. Encourage them to take on more fluids. If you don’t see them going about their usual routine, for example if they normally pop out for a paper in the morning but you don’t see them, check they’re ok and see if there is anything you can do to help.”
And, if you’re worried about your or someone else’s health, there are services which can offer help or advice: “You can speak to your own GP if you are worried about someone. It doesn’t have to be their GP. You can also call 111 as a first port of call.”
The NHS website advises you to avoid going outside in the sun between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) and to wear loose, cool clothing with a hat and sunglasses if you do go outside. For more advice, the NHS website has some helpful information. You can also download the Public Health England leaflet on staying safe in the heat.