Although warm weather is something many people look forward to, it is worth remembering that sunny spells can pose health risks.
Wokingham Borough Council is reminding residents to protect themselves and think of others, such as children and older people, who may be affected more.
At-risk groups are the ones that may need advice, but they might not recognise their own vulnerability to high temperatures and may rely on the help of family and friends.
For people with underlying health conditions, the heat can pose a real danger to their health and that is why the council is urging everyone to keep an eye out this summer.
Older people – particularly those over the age of 75 – are among the most vulnerable. People who live alone or with a serious or long-term illness are also at risk.
Being considerate of others
Cllr David Hare, executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services, said: “The health risks to those who are vulnerable – young and old – should not be overlooked when it comes to the warmer weather.
“If we are considerate and look out for our friends, neighbours and family, we can do our part to keep them protected and beat the heat this summer. We’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, but there are lots of simple ways to look after yourself and others.”
The UK Health Security Agency issues public health alerts for heat and these will be shared by the council when they are issued. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead to avoid the heat if possible.
- Drink lots of water and reduce tea, coffee and especially alcohol consumption
- Wear light-coloured, lightweight, cotton, loose-fitting clothing
- Remember to eat properly
- Avoid extreme exercise
- Close curtains of rooms that face the sun to keep them cool
- Consider fitting thermal blinds/curtains
- Dress appropriately and check the central heating is switched off
- Take cool baths/showers to cool down
- Open windows if it feels cooler outside, considering the safety of young children
- Check your medicines are stored at the correct temperature
- Apply sunscreen and wear a hat, while trying to stay in the shade
- Keep out of the midday sun (11am to 3pm)
- Avoid exercising during the hottest time of the day
- Keep safe if swimming in water, especially open water, rivers and ponds
- Never leave anyone – especially children, the elderly or animals – alone in a vehicle
- Public buildings, such as libraries and places of worship, may be cooler
Dealing with heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you are able to cool down within 30 minutes, but if it becomes heatstroke it needs to be treated as an emergency. Some of the signs to look out for include:
- High temperature of 38C or above
- Headache, dizziness and/or confusion
- Thirst, loss of appetite and feeling sick
- Cramp in legs arms and stomach
- Excessive sweating with pale, clammy skin
If you think someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, it is important to cool them down. Lie them down with their feet raised slightly, get them to drink lots of water and sponge/spray them with cool water to cool their skin. You can also place cold packs around the neck and armpits and use a fan.
Don’t leave them alone and they should start to feel better and cool down within 30 minutes. If they are still feeling unwell, get help and call NHS 111, or 999 in an emergency. Place the person in the recovery position, reassure them and wait for assistance.
Stay safe while cooling down
Water safety is particularly important during the summer, as many people go into open water to cool off. More than 400 people accidentally drown in the UK and Ireland every year and many more have non-fatal incidents, sometimes suffering life-changing injuries.
The shock of cold water, especially when swimming in open water, can make swimming difficult, while people can be unaware of how deep the water is, as well as obstacles and strong currents.
An easy-read version of the Heatwave Plan for England can be found here and information on how to stay gas safe this summer is available here.
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