The importance of staying cool and keeping well in hot weather cannot be over-estimated, with older people often being particularly susceptible to heat-related illness.
The most serious is heat stroke, a life-threatening condition which can develop suddenly if heat exhaustion is left untreated. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, intense thirst, heavy sweating and a fast pulse. Anyone with these symptoms must: stay in a cool place and loosen tight clothes; drink plenty of water or fruit juice; sponge themselves with cool water or have a cool shower; and call their GP or NHS 111 for advice of symptoms haven’t improved within 30 minutes of following the above advice.
It is also very important for older people to stay well hydrated in a heatwave since dehydration can cause urinary tract infections which are very common in later life and which can lead to confusion and falls.
For practical advice during this heatwave, please contact the Solihull Winter Warmth Team on 0121 704 8080.
Top Tips for Staying Cool
1. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day.
This is normally late morning to mid afternoon. If you do go out, use sunscreen of factor 15 or above, wear a hat and stay in the shade as much as possible.
2. When inside, try to keep your house cool.
Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun.
3. Avoid or limit strenuous actitivities like housework and gardening.
Try to do these activities in the early morning or evening when it's cooler.
4. Drink 6-8 glases of fluid a day, even if you aren't thirsty, and take a bottle of water with you if you have to go out.
Limit drinks with caffeine and avoid alcohol as they can make dehydration worse.
5. Watch what you eat.
Eat normaly but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruits as they contan a lot of water. Be careful when eating outside as bacteria can multiply quickly in the hot weather and increases the risk of food poisoning. Avoid this by bringin chilled food home quickly from the shops and putting it straight in the fridge, making sure you don't have food sitting in the sun for long periods of time.
6. Choose the right clothes.
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.
7. Think about your feet.
Allowing your feet to breathe is important when the weather is hot. Wearing open toe sandals is an excellent way to stop your feet getting sweaty and smelly. Avoid flip flops, which can be hard to walk in and opt for sandals which support your feet. Sandals that fasten with Velcro or adjustable straps are a good idea if your feet swell up in the heat.
8. Cool off with water.
Splash your face with cool (not very cold) water or place a damp cloth on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
9. Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on the local tv and radio stations.
10. If you live alone, ask a friend or relative to visit or phone you.
It's important to be aware of friends and neighbours during a heat wave and to let people know if you are on your own and have any concerns. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated.