A heatwave warning has been announced for Kent, leading to advice by health experts to help vulnerable residents stay safe and well.
The level two alert which is currently in place, is triggered when the Met Office forecasts a 60 per cent chance of temperatures being high enough on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night to have a significant effect on health.
As most heat-related deaths occur in the first two days, this is an important stage at which to make sure people are ready – and swift action can be taken to reduce harm from a potential heatwave.
Health and social care workers have already identified the people they care for who are most at risk and made plans to protect them if the heatwave happens. Now that a heatwave is forecast, staff will be checking on vulnerable people and making sure steps are taken to protect them.
Just as important is making sure that you and your friends and neighbours are ready and equipped for a heatwave; check up on people who may be less able to look after themselves and make sure they have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications they need.
KCC Director for Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark, said: “For many, the hot weather is enjoyable and a blessing but it can cause issues for certain members of the community, such as the old, the very young and those with underlying health problems. When it is hot outside, it is not just about vulnerable people being ready – it is also about families and communities looking out for each other. There is lots of good advice out there and this is a time of year when friends, neighbours and families can make an important difference by rallying round and taking time to care for each other.”
Key ‘Beat the Heat’ advice in hot weather includes:
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as water, food and any medications you need.
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. Take water with you if travelling.
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter). Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors. Wear UV sunglasses to reduce UV exposure to eyes and apply a sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves including older people, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, older people, young children or animals.
Dr James Thallon, medical director for NHS England South East, said: “Heat exhaustion can happen to anyone in hot weather and if it isn’t treated it can lead to heatstroke, which can be dangerous and in some cases fatal. If you or anyone else feels unwell, drink water and go somewhere cool to rest. If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, weakness or cramps get worse or don’t go away, it is important to seek medical help.”
People are urged not to go to A&E or call 999 unless it’s an emergency. If you are in any doubt, NHS111 can help you get the right treatment.
The free web app Health Help Now can be used to check symptoms or to find out when and where local services are open. It can be downloaded to mobile phones (from the App Store and Google Play), tablets, laptops and desktop computers from www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net
Notes to editors:
More information about what KCC is doing to protect the people of Kent is available through www.kent.gov.uk/heatwave
More information about the Heatwave Plan for England is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england
More information is available through http://www.nhs.uk/heatwave