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How to cope in hot weather

Most of us welcome hot weather and the summer sun -  but when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks.

Make sure the hot weather does not harm you or anyone you know. high temperatures can be harmful to your health. The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm.

:The main risks posed by a heatwave are: 

  • Not drinking enough water (dehydration) and Find out how to spot dehydration;

  • Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing; and

  • Heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

The signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache;

  • Dizziness and confusion;

  • Loss of appetite and feeling sick;

  • Excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin;

  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach;

  • Fast breathing or pulse;

  • A high temperature of 38C or above; and

  • Being very thirsty.

The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy. 

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down. You should:

  • Move them to a cool place;

  • Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly;

  • Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK; and

  • Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too.

Stay with them until they're better. They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes. Who’s most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone but there are certain factors which can increase an individual being at risk. Remember to think of those who may be more at risk from the effect of heat. These include:

  • Older people – especially those over 75;

  • Those who live on their own, in a care home or are socially isolated;

  • People who on multiple medications, have a serious or long term illness – including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson's disease or some mental health conditions;

  • Those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and the very young, the bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer's disease;

  • People with reduced mobility and/or the ability to look after themselves; and

  • People who are physically active (for example, soldiers, athletes, hikers and manual workers) activities or jobs that are in hot places or outdoors and include high levels of physical exertion.

You should take extra care in the sun if you:

  • Have pale, white or light brown skin;

  • Have freckles or red or fair hair;

  • Tend to burn rather than tan;

  • Have many moles;

  • Have skin problems relating to a medical condition;

  • Are only exposed to intense sun occasionally; and

  • Have a family history of skin cancer.

Tips for coping in hot weather:

  • Try to keep out of the sun when the sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm;

  • Stay cool indoors, out of the heat, cool yourself down, keep your environment cool or find somewhere that is cool;

  • If going outdoors spend time or try to walk in the shade;

  • Liberally apply and frequently use (ideally every two hours) use sunscreen (at least sun protection factor 30) to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears, and head if you have thinning or no hair;

  • If you plan to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, sunscreen needs to be applied twice: 30 minutes before going out and just before going out;

  • Reapplications of sunscreen are also needed straight after you have been in water, towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off;

  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose long clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, if you must go out in the heat;

  • Avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day;

  • Make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling;

  • Drink plenty of fluids/cold drinks, especially when exercising;

  • Avoid excess alcohol;

  • Take cool baths or showers;

  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors;

  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals;

  • Get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications.

Stay safe when swimming

During warm weather cooling off in swimming pools or bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes or quarries, can provide much-welcomed relief. While this can be a fun activity on warm days, people who do not take the right precautions may find themselves in difficult situations. 

Please take care and observe the following guidance:

  • Always look for warning and guidance signs;

  • Only enter the water in areas with adequate supervision and rescue cover;

  • Water is colder than it looks. Cold water shock can happen when you suddenly enter cold water, like jumping or falling into a river;

  • Never enter the water after consuming alcohol;

  • Get out of the water as soon as you start to feel cold or unwell;

  • Always take someone with you when you go into or near water. If something goes wrong they will be able to get help. if someone is in difficulty in the water shout reassurance to them, shout for help and call the emergency services (call 999 or 112


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