Lewisham Children & Family Centre

Keeping cool during a heatwave or Heat-Health Alert

Weather like this is something many people look forward to and go out and enjoy. But it’s worth remembering that sunny spells can pose health risks for some people. It’s important to protect yourself and others from too much sun or heat, to carry water when travelling and to think of those, such as young children or older people, who may feel the heat more acutely than others

Much of the advice on beating the heat is common sense. Before hot weather arrives, it is a good time to think about what you can do to protect yourself and your family and friends from heat. If spending time outdoors remember to take water or other hydrating drinks with you and protect yourself from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, usually between 11:00-15:00.

For some people, especially older people and those with underlying health conditions, the summer heat can bring real health risks. Temperatures indoors can be higher than temperatures outdoors. That’s why we’re urging everyone to keep an eye on those you know who may be at risk this summer. If you’re able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support.

Young black male drinking water from a bottle outside in the heat

 

The top ways for staying safe when the heat arrives are to:

  • Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated. Older people, those with underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk.
  • Use cool spaces if going outdoors.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children, vulnerable adults, or animals.
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
  • If you have to go outside in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid physical exertion during the hottest parts of the day.  If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day – for example, in the early morning or evening.
  • Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling.
  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol.  If you need to travel, ensure you take water with you.
  • Keep your environment cool. keeping your living space cool is especially important for those who need to stay at home this summer.  Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight and keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day. External shutters or shades, if you have them, are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective. Care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat. If possible and safe, open windows at night if it feels cooler outside. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat. During the hottest periods find the coolest part of your home or garden/outside or local green space to sit in. If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately.
  • Look out for the signs of heat-related harm. If you feel dizzy, weak or have intense thirst and a headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate. Avoid excess alcohol.  If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms, or abdomen), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 mins and if not, you should seek medical help. Call 111 if you feel unusual symptoms, or if symptoms persist.  Call 999 if a person develops any signs of heatstroke as this is a medical emergency.
  • Enjoy the water safely.  During warm weather going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief. Take care and follow local safety advice if you are going into the water to cool down.
  • Avoid sunburn.  Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when UV radiation is strongest. If you have to go out in the heat, wear UV sunglasses, preferably wraparound, to reduce UV exposure to the eyes. Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection and wear a hat. Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes. This should reduce the risk of sunburn

White appearing woman in black shorts and white shirt, wearing a black and white hat reading in a park in the shade under trees

 

 

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