It’s important to be aware of friends and neighbours during a heatwave and to let people know if you are on your own and have any concerns. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated.
Top tips for staying cool:
- Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
- If you are travelling by car or public transport always
take a bottle of water.
- Avoid strenuous activity and limit activities like housework and gardening to the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
- When inside, try to stay in the coolest parts of your home. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. Remember that lights generate heat. Keep windows shut while it’s cooler inside than out and open them when it gets hotter inside. If it’s safe, you could leave a window open at night when it’s cooler. Fans can help sweat evaporate but do not cool the air itself.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothing.
- Take cool baths or showers.
- Splash your face with cold water or place a damp cloth or scarf on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
- Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
- Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.
Dehydration and overheating
Extreme heat and humidity can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat. Watch out for certain signs: particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin, heavy sweating and a high temperature.
If you have any of these symptoms you must:
- find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
- drink plenty of water or fruit juice
- sponge yourself with cold water or have a cool shower.
If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated – but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.
So if you or someone else shows symptoms:
- call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarmpress the button on your pendant to call for help.
- while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given above for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.