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Stay safe in the heat this summer

Posted on 08/07/2013

With summer finally upon us, it’s easy to forget the dangers of the sun when it doesn't come out that often. The elderly are particularly at risk from its effects, as the heat can make heart and breathing problems worse, and it can even lead to death in extreme cases. Those who are over 75, have chronic conditions, have mobility problems or are on certain medication can particularly suffer.

A temperature of around 30° during the day and 15°at night is enough to trigger a health alert (source: NHS UK), especially if it lasts for more than a couple of days. A heatwave lasting for a period of time can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can have serious implications.

Here are some top tips for staying cool in summer:

1. Avoid the worst of the heat
It is hottest between 11am and 3pm, so it’s best to keep to the shade in between these times if you can. If you’re inside, keep curtains closed in sunny rooms and open windows for ventilation.

2. Stay hydrated
You will need to drink more than usual when it’s hot, so have plenty of water, fruit juice and other cold drinks. Tea, coffee and alcohol are more dehydrating, so it’s best to avoid them.

3. Cover up
If you’re out in the sun, it’s best to wear loose clothing in a lightweight material, and always wear a hat.

4. Sun protection
Wear a high-factor sun lotion in summer, even if it’s overcast, to protect your skin. Consider long-sleeved tops and trousers to cover your arms and legs. Getting sunburn will make heat illnesses more likely.

5. Cool down
Splash cold water on your face and wrists to help cool you down if you get hot. You can also get water mists from pharmacies that you can keep in your bag at all times for instant relief from the heat.

If you have an elderly relative or neighbour, check on them in hot weather to make sure that they are okay. If they are experiencing any symptoms, such as dizziness, breathlessness, chest pains or confusion, stay with them until help arrives.

You can find out more about the symptoms of dehydration here, so you know what to look out for.

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