Stay safe during the heatwave

NEAS issues advice as temperatures soar

Stay in the shade and drink lots of fluids – that’s the advice from NEAS as temperatures soar.

NEAS typically sees an increase in calls relating to sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke during the summer months.

Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people suffering from high blood pressure, breathing difficulties and heart conditions should take particular care.

By following the simple advice below can help reduce the risk of needing medical attention:

  • Stay in the shade or indoors during the hottest part of the day. The sun is at its most dangerous between 11am and 3pm. Find shade under umbrellas, trees or canopies. It is worth remembering that the temperature is at least a couple of degrees cooler if you are by water.
  • Use sunscreen and cover up. If you can't avoid being out in the sun, apply sunscreen (factor 15+) and wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
  • Increase your fluid intake. Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • Keep your home cool. Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation.
  • Look after the elderly. Older people are more prone to the effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours you can help simply by checking on them and reminding them to drink plenty and often. Also help them to keep their house as cool as possible, using a fan if necessary.
  • Protect children. Keep a close eye on young children, who need plenty of fluids. A good way to check if they are drinking enough is that they are passing urine regularly and that it is not too dark. You should check nappies regularly. Babies and the very young must be kept out of the sun.
  • Avoid excessive physical exertion. If you are taking physical exercise you need to drink half a litre of fluid at least half an hour beforehand and continue to replenish your fluids after exercising.
  • Know the perils of outdoor eating. Warm summer weather is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria so it is especially important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until you are ready to eat them. When barbecuing always make sure you cook meat until it is piping hot, none of it is pink and all juices run clear.
  • Be sensible with alcohol. Hot weather speeds up the effects of alcohol so extra care should be taken when drinking. Alcohol will lead to dehydration so make sure that you alternate alcoholic drinks with water or fruit juice.
  • Keep cool at work. The office is often the coolest place to be in a heat wave. Ask your boss for air-conditioning or fans and open windows where possible. Keep windows shaded with blinds and if possible move your working position out of direct sunlight. Have plenty of breaks during the day to get cold drinks and cool down.

If someone feels unwell, get them somewhere cool to rest and give them plenty of fluids to drink.

Seek medical help if symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or don't go away.

You can find out about the symptoms of dehydration here.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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