Beat the heat - staying safe in hot weather

Although most of us welcome the summer sun, high temperatures can be harmful to your health. Make sure the hot weather doesn’t harm you or anyone you know.

Those who are at higher risk due to COVID-19 may be particularly affected, so it’s especially important that people understand how to keep themselves and others safe during the hot weather.

Public Health England's ‘beat the heat’ advice includes:

  • Drinking plenty of fluid particularly water, aiming for at least two litres and avoiding alcohol, caffeine or hot drinks
  • Dressing appropriately and covering up, including wearing a hat and sunglasses
  • Avoiding the heat as much as possible and limit going out during the hottest part of the day (11am – 3pm)
  • Wearing sun screen with a minimum sun protection factor of SPF30
  • Safely checking on any vulnerable neighbours including older people and young children, especially those who have an underlying health issue such as asthma or heart condition
  • Finding ways to keep your home cool

Further advice is available from nhs.uk/heatwave

If you do start to feel unwell and it’s not an emergency you can contact NHS 111, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can either go to 111.nhs.uk (for people aged 5 and over only), or call 111.

Your medical need or concern will be assessed by a health professional - ranging from nurses, doctors, pharmacists and paramedics - without you needing to leave your home. Depending on the outcome, you will, if needed, be directed to the most appropriate health service in a timely and safe way. This may include a booked appointment at Brants Bridge, Bracknell between the hours of 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and Sunday; or if your condition is more serious, you may be given a booked arrival time at a local Emergency Department.

You should also contact NHS 111 in the first instance for any minor injuries (for example, minor lacerations, minor burns, minor facial injuries, minor sports injuries). If appropriate, NHS 111 will book you into an appointment at Brants Bridge, Bracknell to see the relevant clinician.

You can also get health advice and remedies from your local pharmacist, but please don’t go directly to your GP practice, pharmacy, or hospital if you think you have coronavirus. Always go through 111 first.

Water safety

No matter how warm the weather do not consider cooling off in open water such as rivers and reservoirs. Despite the heat, the temperature of open water will still be low, and those tempted to cool off with a swim may get into difficulties with cold water shock.

Babies and infants also need constant supervision around water – whether this is in the bath, paddling or swimming pool, by ponds, rivers or lakes. They also need supervision around open windows. We have created a video which highlights the risks of leaving babies and infants unsupervised near water, you can watch it here.

How to cope in the hot weather (Source: www.nhs.uk/heatwave)

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • dehydration (not having enough water)
  • overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • heat exhaustion and heatstroke

 Who is most at risk

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

  • older people, especially those 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 – for example, labourers or those doing sports

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes. If it turns into heatstroke it needs to be treated as an emergency.

The signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy.

Call 999 if the person:

  • is no better after 30 minutes
  • feels hot and dry
  • is not sweating even though they are too hot
  • has a temperature that’s risen to 40C or above
  • has rapid or shortness of breath
  • is confused
  • has a fit (seizure)
  • loses consciousness
  • is unresponsive

These can be signs of heatstroke.