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Its Cool to be Cool - How to manage in the current heatwave

Published on 20 July 2018 11:58 AM

It’s hard to believe that we are living in Sunderland right now and not some sunny Mediterranean city.

Seaburn has been as warm as Sardinia, and we have probably consumed as much ice cream in Roker as in Rome!

Over 6 weeks of beautiful weather has put a spring in our step and some sun on our faces. 

However it is really important to be prepared for hot weather as high temperatures can be dangerous to your health, and especially for older people.

Protect your skin

It’s very important to ensure that your skin isn’t exposed to the sun for long periods, as this can lead to sunburn and make you more susceptible to skin cancer.

Anyone can develop skin cancer and at any age, so it’s important to protect yourself with sunscreen on at least sun protection factor 15, whatever your skin type. Don’t forget to reapply it every couple of hours.

Wear a hat to protect your head, face, ears and eyes and don’t forget the sunglasses. 

Vitamin D is important for Health

Although it’s important to protect your skin, some direct exposure to the sun is essential for the production of vitamin D.

Don’t let your skin burn, but try to go outside once or twice every day without sunscreen for short periods from March to October. The more of your skin that is exposed, the better your chance of making enough vitamin D.

There are some food sources of vitamin D – salmon, sardines and other oily fish, eggs and fortified spreads – but sunshine is the major source.

Dehydration and overheating

Extreme heat and dry conditions can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat.

It’s important to eat a balanced diet to help your body replace any salt you lose by sweating.  Aim to drink 6 – 8 glasses of liquid a day, and more if it’s hot.

You may also need to be careful if you’re taking some types of medication that affect water retention. Speak to your GP if you’re concerned.

Watch out for certain signs – particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, intense thirst, heavy sweating and a fast pulse.

 If you have any of these symptoms you must, if at all possible:

  • find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cool water or have a cool shower.

Your symptoms should improve within 30 minutes. If you're feeling better but still have any concerns, call your GP or NHS 111 for advice.

Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated – it can also develop suddenly and without warning.

The symptoms of heatstroke include confusion, disorientation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

If you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately
  • if you have a community alarm, press the button on your pendant to call for help
  • while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.

If you are planning to take part in any exercise, either at one of or ActivAge classes or anywhere else in the city, remember to wear cool, loose fitting clothing and to carry a bottle of water.

Stay Safe and enjoy the glorious weather, while it lasts!