Beat the heat: staying safe in hot weather

Posted on July 25, 2019

Although most of us welcome the summer sun, high temperatures can be harmful to your health. In one hot spell in August 2003 in England and Wales there were over 2,000 extra deaths than would normally be expected. The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. As our climate changes, hot spells are expected to be more frequent and more intense.

This document will tell you how to stay safe in hot weather, including how to keep your home cool. It tells you who is at greatest risk of ill health from the heat, how to recognise when you or someone’s health may be affected, and what to do if you or someone else becomes unwell as a result of the heat.

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Look after yourself, older people and the young

Why is this important?
• The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. Remember to think of those who may be more at risk from the effects of heat – these include the following:
o older people, especially those over 75
o babies and young children
o people with a serious chronic condition, particularly dementia, heart, breathing or mobility problems
o people with serious mental health problems
o people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control (for example, diuretics, antihistamines, beta-blockers and antipsychotics
o people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example, from gastroenteritis)
o people who misuse alcohol or drugs
o people who are physically active (for example, soldiers, athletes, hikers and manual workers)
o homeless people

What can I do?
• stay out of the heat, cool yourself down, keep your environment cool or find somewhere else that is cool
• look out for neighbours, family or friends who may be isolated and unable to care for themselves; make sure they are able to keep cool during a heatwave
• get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications
• make sure medicines are stored below 25°C or in the fridge (read the storage instructions on the packaging)
• carry on taking all prescribed medicines unless advised not to by a medical professional. But be aware that some prescription medicines can reduce your tolerance of heat
• be alert and if someone is unwell or needs further help,