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Keeping cool in summer

  • Public health

During a heatwave, when temperatures stay really high day after day, you can get dehydrated, overheated and are at risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. This can be very damaging to health and may even be fatal. The very young, very old and people with chronic illness are more at risk.

Symptoms to look out for

  • headaches and dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle weakness or cramps
  • pale skin and a high temperature
  • sleepiness
  • hot, dry, red skin
  • intense thirst
  • convulsions and loss of consciousness

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you should move somewhere cool and drink plenty of water or fruit juice. If you can, take a lukewarm shower, or sponge yourself down with cold water.

Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning. 

Top ways for staying safe in hot weather 

  • look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  • close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee and cola) or drinks high in sugar, as these can make you more dehydrated
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • wear light, loose fitting cool clothing, apply sunscreen, wear a hat and walk in the shade if you have to go out in the heat
  • avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
  • make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling
  • take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into the water to cool down

If you suspect someone has heatstroke call 999. Whilst waiting for the ambulance, try to cool them down and if conscious encourage them to drink fluids. Do not give aspirin or paracetamol.

Further advice

  • Met Office - for weather forecast for any high temperature health warnings 
  • Contact NHS 111 - for advice about heat exhaustion and heatstroke
  • You can also get advice on protecting your skin during hot weather from the Cancer Research UK SunSmart campaign.

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