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Keeping Cool In Summer

Image of a hot sun and a wheat field

During a heat wave, when temperatures stay really high day after day, you can get dehydrated, overheated and are at risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. This can be very damaging to health and may even be fatal. The very young, very old and people with serious illness are more at risk.

Remember, heatstroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly, and rapidly lead to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 immediately.

Watch out for these symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Pale skin
  • High temperature

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you should move somewhere cool and drink plenty of water or fruit juice. If you can, take a lukewarm shower, or sponge yourself down with cold water.

Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, an intense thirst, sleepiness, hot, red and dry skin, a sudden rise in temperature, confusion, aggression, convulsions and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke can result in irreversible damage to your body or death.

To avoid heatstroke, try to keep out of the heat as much as possible:

  •  If a heat wave is forecast, try and plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat. 
  •  If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am3pm).
  •  If you can't avoid strenuous outdoor activity, like sport, DIY, or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day, like early morning.
  • If you must go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light, loose fitting clothes, preferably cotton. If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you.
  • Stay inside, in the coolest rooms in your home, as much as possible.
  •  Close the curtains in rooms that get a lot of sun.
  • Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation. If you are worried about security, at least open windows on the first floor and above.
  • Take cool showers or baths, and splash yourself several times a day with cold water
  • Even if you do not feel thirsty drink regularly - water or fruit juice are best.
  • Try to avoid alcohol, tea and coffee. They make dehydration worse.
  • Eat as you normally would. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.

Contact your doctor, a pharmacist or NHS Direct if you are worried about your health during a heat wave, especially if you are taking medication, or have any unusual symptoms:

  •  Watch for cramp in your arms, legs or stomach, feelings of mild confusion, weakness or problems sleeping.
  • If you have these symptoms, rest for several hours, keep cool and drink water or fruit juice. Seek medical advice if they get worse or don't go away.