Posted by Amanda Crawford at 30/06/2015 12:49:42
Summer months can be a busy time for the NHS, with soaring temperatures leading to increased numbers of patients suffering heat exhaustion, sunburn and allergic reactions from insect bites. And the elderly and very young can most at risk.
Heatwave Alerts, such as the one in place at the moment – known as a level 2 – are triggered as soon as the Met Office forecasts a 60 per cent chance of temperatures being high enough on at least two consecutive days to have significant effect on health. This will normally happen two or three days before a heatwave is expected to occur.
Being aware and well prepared can help people to stay healthy, cool and protected, says NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Dr Tony Martin, Clinical Chair of NHS Thanet CCG said: “Thanet is renowned for its sunny weather, but please remember that heat exhaustion can happen to anyone in hot conditions. And if it isn't treated it can lead to heatstroke, which can be dangerous and even fatal. I urge people to be mindful of the elderly or very young.
“If you or anyone else feels unwell, drink water and go somewhere cool to rest. If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, weakness or cramps get worse or don’t go away, it is important to seek medical help.
“People should call NHS 111 if they need medical help fast, but it’s not a life-threatening 999 emergency. For less urgent health needs, they should contact their GP or local pharmacist in the usual way. For immediate, life-threatening emergencies they should call 999.”
Not all ailments need assistance from an NHS service – a grazed knee, a sore throat, mild sunburn or mild sunstroke may be best treated by staying at home, resting and drinking plenty of fluids.
Dr Martin said: “I’d urge everyone with a smartphone or computer to save the Health Help Now web app – www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net – or download the Health Help Now app from Google Play and the App Store.
“Health Help Now has lots of local information and can guide you to the service that will be best able to deal with your symptoms. It also shows when services, such as pharmacies, are open or closed.”
Health and social care workers have already identified the people they care for who are most at risk and made plans to protect them if the heatwave happens. Now that a heatwave is forecast, staff will be checking on vulnerable people and making sure steps are taken to protect them.
Just as important is making sure that you and your friends and neighbours are ready and equipped for a heatwave; check up on people who may be less able to look after themselves and make sure they have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications they need.
Key advice in hot weather includes:
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as water, food and any medications you need.
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn't possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
Notes to editors:
More information about what KCC is doing to protect the people of Kent is available through www.kent.gov.uk/heatwave
More information about the Heatwave Plan for England is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england
More information is available through http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/Heatwave.aspx