The top ways for staying safe when the heat arrives are to:
- look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
- close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
- drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated
- never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
- try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
- take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into the water to cool down
- walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat
- avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
- wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
- make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling
Dehydration and heatstroke
During summer months, people often go to their doctor with a heat-related condition, from mild dehydration to severe heatstroke. Be mindful of the temperature, stay hydrated and avoid being outside for prolonged periods of time if the temperature is high ― especially during the hottest time of the day between 11am and 3pm.
Have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine or drinks high in sugar. If drinking fruit juice, dilute it with water. Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with high water content.
Barbeques and food poisoning
Gastrointestinal issues frequently bring people to the Accident & Emergency department during warmer months. In fact, food-borne illnesses peak in the summer months, since hot temperatures and humid conditions provide the optimum breeding ground for bacteria to multiply rapidly.
It’s commonly seen after a summer barbecue, where the food has not been properly cooked or may have been left out in the heat. Or when fruits and vegetables have not been washed properly.
Ensure food is cooked properly before serving. Be especially wary of food that’s been sitting out in the sun all day and wash your hands properly before eating.
Sports-related injuries from playing football and outdoor activities are also a bigger issue. Sprained ankles, wrists and broken bones are common sights in urgent care clinics and emergency rooms between spring and summer, according to the experts.
Treatment for these injuries typically requires a little home care. If you’ve suffered a strain or sprain use RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression Elevation) therapy or visit your pharmacy for advice. But if something feels seriously wrong or keeps getting worse, head to the doctor or call 111 as soon as possible.
Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you’re taking part in strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day – for example, in the early morning or evening.
Children should not take part in vigorous physical activity on very hot days, such as when temperatures are above 30°C.
If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen), after sustained exercise during very hot weather, rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks.
Most people should start to recover within 30mins and if not, they should seek medical help. Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms, or if symptoms persist.
Choose the right service for your illness or injury
Unnecessary GP visits can drain resources from caring for older, chronically-ill people, and have a knock-on effect of placing A&E and emergency departments under further pressure.
All kinds of minor illnesses and injuries, from insect bites to hay fever, sun burn to minor cuts, can be treated at home with advice and medicines from your local pharmacist.
Self-care is the best option if you have a common summer health complaint.
Your high street pharmacy can give you expert advice without an appointment.
You can also call 111 free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days a week for a medical emergency that does not require a 999 call.