While many of us will simply be pleased that the long, wet winter is far behind us, it is important to be prepared for sustained hot weather.
Heatwave Alerts, such as the one in place at the moment – known as a level 2 – are triggered as soon as the Met Office forecasts a 60 per cent chance of temperatures being high enough on at least two consecutive days to have significant effect on health.
This will normally happen two or three days before a heatwave is expected to occur. 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: “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 advice in hot weather includes:
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as water, food and any medications you need.
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
- 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.
- 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).
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
Dr Faiza Khan, KCC Consultant in Public Health, 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 even 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.”