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Level 2 Heatwave Alert from Wiltshire Council

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s too hot for too long there are health risks.

This weekend is going to be a hot one and the Met Office has just released a level 2 heatwave alert, stating there is a 60% chance of a heatwave in the South West. Make sure the hot weather doesn’t harm you or anyone you know.

The very young, the elderly and the seriously ill are the groups who are particularly at risk of health problems when the weather is very hot. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.

Why is a heatwave a problem?

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • Dehydration
  • Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke

Who is most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people in extreme heat are:

  • Older people, especially females over 75
  • Babies and young children
  • People with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems
  • People with mobility problems, for example people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke
  • People with serious mental health problems
  • People on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • People who misuse alcohol or drugs
  • People who are physically active, e.g. labourers or those doing sports

Tips for coping in hot weather

The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable and reducing health risks:

  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • Have cool baths or showers, and sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion.
  • Keep your environment cool
  • Keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions or who can’t look after themselves
  • Place a thermometer in your main living room and 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.
  • Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or putting reflective material in-between them and the window space.
  • Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat.
  • Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air.
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool. If possible, move into the cooler room, especially for sleeping.
  • Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C.
  • Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

How do I know if someone needs help?

If someone feels unwell, get them somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink.

If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or don’t go away, seek medical help.

Posted by: RB on 12th July 2013


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