Health experts' heat warning
Over the next few days East Anglia is likely to see temperatures rising and staying relatively high overnight. A few simple precautions can help avoid risks to health and allow all of us to enjoy the sunny weather.
Who is at risk?
The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of harm. These include:
- Older people
- Babies and young children
- People with mental health problems
- People on certain medication
- People with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems
- People who already have a high temperature from an infection
- People who use alcohol or illicit drugs
- People with mobility problems
- People who are physically active, like manual workers and sportsmen and women.
What you should do
- If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm).
- If you must go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothes, preferably cotton. If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you.
- Take cool showers or baths, and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck.
- Contact your doctor, a pharmacist or NHS Direct if you are worried about your health during a heatwave, especially if you are taking medication, or have any unusual symptoms.
- Watch for cramp in your arms, legs or stomach, feelings of mild confusion, weakness or problems sleeping (If you have these symptoms, rest for several hours, keep cool and drink water or fruit juice. Seek medical advice if they get worse or don’t go away.)
- If anyone you know is likely to be at risk during a heatwave (see the list), help them get the advice and support they need. Older people living on their own should be visited daily to check they are OK.
The Department of Health has prepared a national Heatwave Plan and advice leaflets which can be found at http://www.dh.gov.uk/.
Check the weather forecast and any high temperature health warnings at www.metoffice.gov.uk.
Contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or NHS Direct Online at http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/for advice about heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
You can get advice on protecting your skin during hot weather from the Cancer Research UK SunSmart campaign website at www.cancerresearchuk.org/sunsmart/
Heatstroke can develop very rapidly; it can lead to unconsciousness and if left untreated can kill. If you suspect somebody has heatstroke call 999 immediately.
While waiting for the ambulance
- If possible, move the person somewhere cooler
- Increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan
- Cool them down as quickly as possibly by loosening their clothes, sprinkling them with cold water or wrapping them in a damp sheet
- If they are conscious, give them water or fruit juice to drink
- Do not give them aspirin or paracetamol.