Extreme heat is potentially dangerous to everyone. During a heatwave, when high temperatures are maintained over more than a couple of days, it can prove fatal. During a heatwave there are an increased number of hospital admissions due to sunburn, heat exhaustion, respiratory problems and other illnesses such as food poisoning.
Those at risk during hot weather include older people, especially those over 75, the very young or those which a chronic illness. It is important to know that during an extreme heatwave, fit and healthy people can also be affected.
Tips for coping during a heatwave
The key message for preventing heat related illness and death is to keep cool! The best way to do this is to include the following:
Stay out of the sun
- Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
- If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf
- Avoid extreme physical exertion
- Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
Cool yourself down
- Have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffiene and hot drinks
- Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with high water content
- Take a cool shower, bath or body wash
- Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck
Keep your environment cool
- Place a thermometer in your main living room or bedroom to keep a check on the temperature
- Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped
- Care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat - consider replacing them or putting reflective material between them and the window space.
Further advice and information
The Met Office website has advice about heat and sun, and the NHS has produced a heatwave guide (available from NHS Choices) to looking after yourself and others during hot weather. (Links open in a new window)