Top Tips on How to Stay Safe in the Heat This Summer

19.07.2016

The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm.

Who is most at risk?

• older people, especially those over 75

• babies and young children

• people with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems

• people who already have a high temperature from an infection

• people with mobility problems

Top tips for keeping cool

The best thing for your health is to avoid getting too hot. Remember to think of those who may be more at risk from the effects of heat. Below are some tips on how to keep yourself and others cool and what to do if someone feels unwell:

Stay out of the heat:

• if possible, keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm

• if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and you may also want to wear a hat

• light, loose-fitting cotton clothes are the best for keeping cool

Cool yourself down:

• have plenty of cold drinks and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks

• cold food with high water content is great for keeping cool, including salads and fruit

• take a cool shower or bath

Keep your environment cool:

• close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun. Care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or putting reflective material in-between them and the window space. 

• turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment as they generate heat

• keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air

• if possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping

• electric fans may provide some relief if temperatures are below 35°C – at temperatures above 35°C fans may not prevent heat related illness and may cause dehydration; the advice is not to aim the fan directly on the body and to have regular drinks - this is especially important in the case of sick people confined to bed

Look out for others:

• keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool

• ensure that babies, children, elderly people and dogs are not left alone in stationary cars

• check on elderly or sick neighbours, family and friends every day during a heatwave

• be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed

If you or others feel unwell:

• try to get help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache; move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature

• drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate

• rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular cramps (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, in many cases after sustained exercise during very hot weather), and drink oral rehydration solutions containing electrolytes

• medical attention is needed if heat cramps last more than one hour

• consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist

Seek advice if you have any concerns:

• contact your doctor, a pharmacist or NHS 111 if you are worried about your health during a heatwave, especially if you are taking medication, if you feel unwell or have any unusual symptoms

• watch for cramp in your arms, legs or stomach, feelings of mild confusion, weakness or problems sleeping

• if you have these symptoms, rest for several hours, keep cool and drink water or fruit juice. Seek medical advice if they get worse or don’t go away

Further information:

• check the weather forecast and any high temperature health warnings on the Met Office website

• for further information about how to protect your health during a heatwave visit NHS Choices

• advice on ways to minimise ultraviolet ray induced skin and eye damage can be found here on NHS Choices

• heatwaves may worsen air pollution. If you would like more information about air pollution in the UK or health advice to those who may be particularly sensitive to air pollution, there is an automated freephone recorded information service run by Defra on 0800 55 66 77