The UK Health Security Agency has upgraded the heat health alert for the West Midlands from yellow to amber. This will be in place from Friday 9 to Monday 12 June.
This means significant effects are probable in health and social care sectors due to the high temperatures, including an increase in mortality across the population, particularly among over-65s and those with health conditions. Younger age groups may also be affected. There’ll also be an increase in demand for remote health care services.
Herefordshire Council’s director of public health says warmer days are welcomed by many but that heat can cause issues for some: “Really sunny days are still relatively rare in England. So, many of us can be guilty of overexposing ourselves in fine weather. In reality, we should to be as cautious about hot weather as we are about cold.”
Matt Pearce continues: “It’s especially important during periods of hot weather to think about vulnerable residents whose health can deteriorate quickly.”
Matt advises residents look at government guidance to help stay safe when temperatures rise. It suggests people:
Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
Do physical activities (including walking your dog) at cooler times of the day, like morning or evening
Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include tiredness, weakness, feeling faint, headache, muscle cramps, feeling sick, heavy sweating and intense thirst. Symptoms of heatstroke include confusion, lack of coordination, faster heartbeat and breathing or shortness of breath, hot skins that isn’t sweating, seizures.
To cool down if you or someone else has or looks like they have heat exhaustion:
Move to a cooler place (into shade or an air-conditioned room)
Remove all unnecessary clothing, like jackets and socks
Drink cool water, a sports or rehydration drink, eat cold and water-rich foods (like ice-lollies)
Apply cool water by spray or sponge to skin use; cold packs wrapped in a cloth can be placed under the armpits or on the neck to cool someone down
If you’re concerned about worsening symptoms, seek medical advice by contacting NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999.
Everyone, especially those at higher risk of becoming ill during hot spells, is advised to:
Keep up with the news and check weather forecasts to be prepared for hot weather
Listen to advice on what do if services like power, water and transport fails
Check air pollution forecasts, which can be worse during hot weather
Plan to do outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day, before 11am and after 3pm
Closing your curtains during the day is also a good idea to help keep your indoor spaces cool during the hottest times of the year.
To protect yourself from the sun, the advice is to wear light, loose-fitting clothes, a hat and sunglasses and apply sunscreen regularly.
It’s also wise to keep your home cool. To do that:
Close blinds and curtains on windows facing direct sunlight
Move to a cooler part of your house, especially to sleep
Open windows (if it’s safe to) when the air feels cooler outside than in (especially at night)
Use electric fans, though not directly at your body as this can dehydrate
Turn lights and unused electrical equipment off
Go outside if it’s cooler than inside
Plunging into cool water may be tempting during hot spells. But more people get into difficulties in rivers, lakes and seas in summer months.
The following can help keep you safe when swimming outdoors:
Always look for warnings and guidance signs before getting into the water
Only enter water in areas with adequate supervision and rescue cover
Wear buoyancy aids
Get out if you start feeling cold
Swim along the shoreline
Avoid fast-flowing water and take someone with you
The site advises calling NHS 111 for help or 999 in an emergency.
Eating out, staying safe
Finally, this is the time of year when many of us dust the cobwebs from our barbecue-sets and invite friends and family round for some outdoor food.
The following guide will help ensure you all stay safe while your charcoal-fired feast.
Scrub up. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food. Remember, if you touch raw meat or fish, you should wash again before touching other foods. Don’t forget to do the same with any utensils you use to avoid cross-contamination.
Thaw before you gnaw. Barbecues have a nasty habit of making food look tasty before it’s actually safe to eat. This is usually because it’s not cooked in the middle. Make sure all your frozen meat is completely defrosted before you introduce it to the flames. Take extra care to cook chicken, pork, sausages, burgers and fish right through. Alternatively, cook it in the oven before finishing it off outdoors.
Keep salads in the shade. Keep your food out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Put it in the shade or indoors until you really need it. It’s worth keeping food that can perish (including dips, cheese and meats) in the fridge and taking them outside in batches.