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  • Sharon Burbidge

Heatwave: How to cope in hot weather

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks. If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot weather does not harm you or anyone you know.


Why is a heatwave a problem?

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

not having enough water (dehydration) overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing heat exhaustion and heatstroke


Who's most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

older people, especially those over 75, babies and young children, people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems, people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke, people with serious mental health problems, people on certain medicines, people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports


Tips for coping in hot weather

keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.

Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes

keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter) if possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping.

have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water

drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Water, lower-fat milks and tea and coffee are good options.

if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.

check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot house that's affecting your health or someone else's, get medical advice.

You can also get help from the environmental health office at your local authority. They can inspect a home for hazards to health, including excess heat.

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