Hot Weather Toolkit

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6 months ago
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The team at Care is Central want to make sure you stay safe during this unexpected hot weather. The UK Health Security Agency has created a hot weather toolkit, which includes background research into why heatwaves happen, advice for those who are vulnerable and some helpful links. We wanted to remind you of the Health Security Agency’s advice.

Background

Climate change is already causing warmer temperatures in the UK. All of the warmest years on record in the UK have occurred since 2002, and in July 2022 temperatures exceeded 40°C for the first time on record. It is estimated that 2,803 people aged 65 years and over died due to the heat in England in 2022, and it is predicted that the number of heat-related deaths per year may triple by 2050. Hot weather can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, lung problems and other diseases. Older people, babies and young children are more likely to be unwell from hot weather because their bodies are less able to regulate temperature. People with underlying medical conditions can also be vulnerable to the effects of hot weather. Many of the harms linked to heat exposure are preventable if a few simple actions are taken. During the summer, UKHSA will work with the Met Office to issue alerts alongside the weather forecast if the weather is so hot that it has the potential to affect people’s health.

 

People at risk of becoming unwell in hot weather

Anyone can become unwell when the weather is hot. People who are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell include:

  • older people aged 65 years and over (note change from previous guidance of 75 years of age and above)
  • babies and young children aged 5 years and under
  • people with underlying health conditions particularly heart problems, breathing problems, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, or mobility problems
  • people on certain medications
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example from diarrhoea and vomiting)
  • people who experience alcohol or drug dependence
  • people who are physically active and spend a lot of time outside such as runners, cyclists and walkers
  • people who work in jobs that require manual labour or extensive time outside
  • people experiencing homelessness, including rough sleepers and those who are unable to make adaptations to their living accommodation such as sofa surfers or living in hostels.
  • people who live alone and may be unable to care for themselves

 

The Colour System

In line with other weather warning systems in operation within England (and the UK), warnings will be issued when the weather conditions have the potential to impact the health and wellbeing of the population.  The alerts will be given a colour (yellow, amber or red) based on the combination of the impact the weather conditions could have, and the likelihood of those impacts being realised. These assessments are made in conjunction with the Met Office when adverse weather conditions are indicated within the forecast.

The platform aims to cover the spectrum of action from different groups. In general terms:

  • Green (preparedness): No alert will be issued as the conditions are likely to have minimal impact and health; business as usual and summer/winter planning and preparedness activities.
  • Yellow (response): These alerts cover a range of situations. Yellow alerts may be issued during periods of heat/cold which would be unlikely to impact most people but could impact those who are particularly vulnerable.
  • Amber (enhanced response): An amber alert indicates that weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service, with potential for the whole population to be at risk. Non-health sectors may also start to observe impacts and amore significant coordinated response may be required.
  • Red (emergency response): A red alert indicates significant risk to life for even the healthy population

Staying safe during the heat

At this time of year most of us look forward to some warm, sunny weather and the chance to spend time outdoors, but it’s important to remember that some people struggle to cope in the heat.

The good news is, we can all take precautions that allow us to enjoy the hot weather safely and help people who might be more vulnerable as the temperatures rise.

Who is vulnerable?

Anyone can become unwell when the weather is hot. People who are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell include:

  • older people aged 65 years and over
  • babies and young children aged 5 years and under
  • people with underlying health conditions particularly heart problems, breathing problems, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, or mobility problems
  • people on certain medications
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example from diarrhoea and vomiting)
  • people who experience alcohol or drug dependence
  • people who are physically active and spend a lot of time outside such as runners, cyclists and walkers
  • people who work in jobs that require manual labour or extensive time outside
  • people experiencing homelessness, including rough sleepers and those who are unable to make adaptations to their living accommodation such as sofa surfers or living in hostels.
  • people who live alone and may be unable to care for themselves


What can we do to stay safe?

There are a few very simple things we can all to do stay safe when we experience high temperatures.

This includes looking out for people who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated. Get in touch with friends, family or neighbours that may need help keeping cool.

Staying cool indoors is important, taking action like closing curtains on rooms that face the sun but also remembering that it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.

And if you’re out and about, try to keep out of the sun and avoid physical exertion in the hottest part of the day.

There’s lots more information online to help you stay safe during hot weather. Visit the UKHSA and NHS websites including their pages on how to beat the heat and on heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

 

Vulnerable people 

  • Look out for older people, people with long-term health conditions and young children who may find it more difficult to stay cool and hydrated in hot weather
  • Check in on older friends, family and neighbours, particularly those who live alone, who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated during the hot weather
  • Don’t leave babies, children, older people or vulnerable people or pets alone in stationary cars in hot weather
  • Look out for children in prams or pushchairs in hot weather; keep them in the shade, remove excess clothing, ensure there is adequate air flow and check regularly to ensure they are not overheated

Keeping yourself cool 

  • The best thing to do in the hot weather is stay out of the direct sun, especially during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm, as UV rays are strongest during these hours
  • If you’re going out in the hot weather, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen, wear a hat, sunglasses and light, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes
  • Apply sunscreen frequently of at least SPF 30 and 4 or 5 star ultraviolet A (UVA) protection regularly to exposed skin
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol during the hot weather
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion during the hot weather. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, keep it for cooler parts of the day such as early morning or evening

How to cool down (if you or someone else has heat exhaustion)

  • Move to a cooler place such as a room with air conditioning or somewhere in the shade
  • Remove all unnecessary clothing like a jacket or socks
  • Drink cool water, a sports or rehydration drink, or eat cold and water rich foods like ice-lollies
  • Apply cool water by spray or sponge to exposed skin, and using cold packs wrapped in a cloth and put under the armpits or on the neck can also help

Keeping your home cool 

  • Close blinds and curtains on windows that are exposed to direct sunlight, move to the coolest part of your home and open windows (if it is safe to) when the air feels cooler outside than inside
  • A cool living space is especially important for infants, older people or those with long-term health conditions
  • Use electric fans if the temperature is below 35°C, but do not aim the fan directly at the body
  • Go outside if it is cooler in the shade

 

Key things to remember:

  • Keep a close eye on older people, young children, and people with long term health conditions – their bodies can struggle to cope with the heat and they are at greater risk.  
  • Keep cool indoors. Close curtains on windows that face the sun, open windows when its cooler outside than in (when it is safe to do so) and turn off any unnecessary electrical items. Remember it is sometimes cooler sitting in a park under a tree than it is in a home that is too hot.  
  • Check weather forecasts and if you’re spending time outdoors remember to travel with bottled water, apply sunscreen frequently and protect yourself from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, between 11am and 3pm.

 

 

 

 

 

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