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Age UK: Please look out for older people as Met Office extends extreme heat alert

Published on 18 July 2022 05:03 PM

As the Met Office extends an Amber Extreme Heat warning from Sunday 17 into Tuesday 19 July, highlighting the risks even to people in good health, Age UK renews calls for us all to look out for older friends, family and neighbours, especially those who are more vulnerable for any reason, such as those with heart conditions or breathing difficulties.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Unusually hot conditions are forecast for much of England from Sunday into next Tuesday, so our message at Age UK is please take care if you are an older person, and to the rest of us please look out for older neighbours, family members and friends who could find this period quite distressing and even threatening to their health.

“The kind of heat which is predicted is far more intense than we’re used to in this country, and though many of us may have enjoyed similar conditions abroad the fact is our homes are rarely designed to cope with it. Also, although the temperatures are scheduled to fall a little in the two or three days leading up to this surge they will still stay quite high. The end result is that where we live will already be warm, even before the extreme heat arrives on Sunday to make it even hotter.

“I’ve heard some people poo-pooing the risks of the heatwave, but the evidence is crystal clear that as we age our bodies find it harder to manage extremes of heat, and of cold. Any older person who is already coping with significant health issues, especially if they impact their heart or their lungs, is going to find the coming heatwave a challenge. We urge them to take some simple precautions, and for others around them to keep a gentle eye, and offer practical help where relevant too.

“Our top tips set out the things older people can do to get through a heatwave as comfortably and safely as possible and we thank the media for helping us to spread their important messages. 

“Older people can be at risk of dehydration and overheating when the temperature is high, especially if they live somewhere that is hard to keep cool. Some medications can increase the severity of heat stroke too[ii]. It’s a good idea to let people know if you have any concerns about your health during these unusually hot days, especially if you live alone, have a long-term illness, mobility problems or are living in a top floor flat and have no obvious way of keeping cool. 

“We can all help keep older people safe during the severe heat by checking in on older relatives, friends and neighbours to see if they need anything – you could for example, encourage them to stay hydrated with the gift of an ice cream, ask if they would like help getting shopping or picking up any medication, or you may even have an extra fan you could lend.

“The symptoms of heat exhaustion can be similar to Covid-19 and include a high temperature, excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin and headaches. Confusion, dizziness and nausea can also be signs of a heat related illness. If you experience any of these symptoms go somewhere cool, have a cold drink and cool down your skin with water, fans or cold packs. If your symptoms don’t improve then call 111 for advice or 999 if there is cause for serious concern.

“For more information people can call Age UK’s free advice line on 0800 169 6565 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk where you will be able to request or download a copy of our free guide, ‘Staying Cool in a Heatwave’, which provides advice on how to protect yourself from the heat.”

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 Age UK’s Top Tips to help keep cool in a heatwave

Age UK offers a range of free information and advice designed to help older people live well during the summer months and protect themselves when the temperature soars. Here are the Charity’s top tips staying cool and well in the warmer weather: 

1. If you have neighbours or relatives who live alone and who are frail or coping with health issues visit or phone to check that they are ok. Heat stroke is a very serious, ultimately life-threatening condition that can develop if someone experiences heat exhaustion and it is left untreated.

2. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – 11am to 3pm. If you do go out use sunscreen of factor 30 or above, wear a hat and keep in the shade if possible.

3. When inside, try to keep your house cool. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun and shut windows to keep hot air out and cool air in. Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.

4. Have cool baths or showers and splash yourself with cool water. Sprinkling clothes with water regularly, splashing cool water on the face and a damp cloth on the back of the neck helps temperature regulation.

  1. Change the timings of activities - If you have a routine walk that you like to take, make sure you do this at a different time of the day when it is cooler such as in the early morning or evening. Also limit or avoid strenuous activities like housework and gardening.

  2. Stay hydrated drink lots of water throughout the day even if you aren’t thirsty. Limit drinks with alcohol as these can increase the risk of dehydration.

  3. Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruits as they contain a lot of water.

  4. Choose the right clothes, it may sound obvious, but light-coloured, loose cotton clothing can help you stay cool in the heat. Dark colours absorb the light and can make you feel even warmer.

  5. Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on TV, radio and online at metoffice.gov.uk

People looking for advice can call Age UK’s free Advice Line, 365 days a year from 8am - 7pm on 0800 169 6565, or visit www.ageuk.org.uk

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[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england/supporting-vulnerable-people-before-and-during-a-heatwave-for-health-and-social-care-professionals

 

 

 

 

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Last updated: Jul 18 2022

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