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Summer advice for elderly and vulnerable people

Posted on 19/06/2017

Public Health England has issued a warning to take care in hot weather, prompted by high temperatures around the UK. With parts of the country experiencing temperatures of up to 30 degrees, it’s a good time to remember how to stay sun safe. However, for some people, particularly the elderly, young children and babies, and those with underlying heart and lung conditions, the hot weather can cause more health issues than sunburn. 

If you have elderly neighbours or family members, it’s worth checking in on them and making sure that they stay safe and well on exceptionally warm days. Homes in the UK are rarely equipped with air conditioning, so they can get very hot, and provide less relief from warm conditions than we’d like. Some people may not be able to take all of the necessary steps to stay cool without aid, which is why it’s important to ensure that help can be provided where needed. UV levels are also very high at the moment, which means that all of us, and especially the more vulnerable among us, should be taking extra precautions in the sun.

During periods of prolonged heat, there are certain risks to be aware of. Dehydration is one of the biggest problems, as it can have serious side effects. It’s important to ensure that water is easily available and plentiful in supply. Keep bottles of water in the freezer so that they can defrost throughout the day and stay cool for longer. Make sure that people who have limited mobility have water to hand and that they can reach or access more as needed.

Overheating can cause issues for those with heart problems or breathing conditions. Wear cool loose layers, a hat and sunglasses when outside, and seek shade. Cold drinks can help to get the body’s core temperature down, and staying indoors during the peak times (11am to 3pm) is advised.

Keeping the house cool can be difficult. Draw the curtains and open windows, so that there is ventilation but there is a block against the sun coming in and heating rooms. Ideally, lighter coloured fabrics are best. Some rooms will be cooler than others, so make sure you know which one is best to seek solace from the heat. If need be, fans can help to cool down rooms. If it feels like only warm air is being moved around, then try placing a frozen bottle of water in front of the fan so that the cooler air is pushed out by the fan.

Keep an eye on the news for weather alerts, especially from the Met Office and Public Health England, which give forewarning of hot conditions to enable people to prepare. Use the time to ensure that all supplies are topped up, there is water in the house and all medications are up to date – this saves unnecessary trips if it does get too hot.

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