The main risks posed by a heatwave are:-
- not having enough water in your body (dehydration)
- the body overheating, which can make symptoms worse for those who already have problems with their heart or breathing
- heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Those most at risk or have a higher likelihood of being affected include
- older people, and those over 75
- babies and young children
- people with a serious long-term condition, like 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 medicines, 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
What actions can you take?
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it’s hotter outside. Keep direct sunlight (see below) out, keep hot air out. You can open the windows for ventilation when it’s cooler.
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and do not go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows keeping the sun’s rays out. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains absorb the heat can make the room hotter).
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Water, lower fat milks and tea and coffee are good options. You can also drink fruit juice, smoothies and soft drinks, but they can be high in sugar. Limit fruit juice or smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day, and choose diet or sugar-free soft drinks.
- Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool. Listen to/watch the weather forecasts to plan and take action.
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medicines you need.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.