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Staying well in hot weather

 

Many of us long for the arrival of hot summer days, and maybe even the appearance of a UK heatwave. Yet very hot weather can make it harder to take care of yourself and your loved ones. If stay in the heat for too long, you could find yourself falling ill. People who are most at risk of becoming ill due to heat include:

  • the elderly
  • babies and young children
  • people with a long-term health-condition

There’s no one best way to keep cool in hot weather. But if a heatwave does come to Essex, our hot weather tips can help you enjoy the summer months while staying well. We've also got some handy advice on treating common heat-related ailments as well as information on which service to use if you need help.

We'll be sharing these tips on social media throughout June, July and August. Please help us keep people in north east Essex safe by liking, sharing and retweeting!

     

Hot weather tips for residents of Colchester, Clacton and the Tendring district

  • Avoid going outside in the hottest part of the day (between 11am-3pm).
  • Try and stock up on essentials and make sure you have a good supply of any medications you may need - this can help avoid emergency trips in the heat.
  • Keep yourself hydrated with cold drinks that are low in sugar. And try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks as they can accelerate dehydration.
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
  • Shower, bathe or dab yourself with cool water to control your body temperature. A damp cloth on the back of your neck can help keep you cool.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing. And if you go outside, protect yourself with sunglasses and a hat. The hat should have a brim that's wide enough to protect your head and also the back of your neck.
  • Remember to regularly apply sun cream.
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion.

Keeping your environment cool

 

Keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, the elderly, or those with chronic health conditions. To keep an eye on the temperature of your home, place a thermometer in the room you spend the most time in during the day, as well as your bedroom. Here are some tips on keeping your home cool:

  • Keep your home as cool as possible by blocking the sun's rays with light-coloured curtains or blinds. Closing dark-coloured curtains or blinds can actually increase the temperature of the room.
  • It also helps to keep windows shut in the hottest part of the day (between 11am-3pm). You can open them to let some air in during the cooler parts of the day and during the night.
  • Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment, as they can generate heat.
  • Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house, as evaporation helps cool the air.
  • Use an electric fan for relief, if the temperature of your room is below 35°C. Take care not to point the fan directly at yourself or others, as this can actually cause dehydration.
  • One way of checking whether you're dehydrated is by checking the colour of your wee. Use our handy chart to assess whether you're taking on enough fluid. It might be useful to print this chart and pin up in communal bathrooms, such as workspaces.

 

Read our extra advice on how the most vulnerable residents of Colchester and Tendring can stay well in the hot weather.

 

What to do if you feel unwell in the heat


If you have been exposed to too much heat and sun, you may begin to feel unwell. Here are some symptoms to look out for.

Symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion


Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • headache
  • dizziness, confusion or anxiety
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • temperature of 38°C or above
  • being very thirsty

Children may also become floppy or sleepy.

Heat exhaustion isn’t usually dangerous if the person’s temperature can be brought down within 30 minutes. However, if the person doesn’t cool down quickly enough, heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke, which is more serious.

Visit the NHS website for advice on how to cool someone down and when you should call 999.

Symptoms of severe sunburn


The most common symptom of sunburn is inflamed skin that feels hot and is painful to touch. Sunburn can be managed at home by cooling the skin with cool showers or wet towels and treated with moisturiser. Some moisturisers contain soothing aloe vera that can help cool the skin. You should also drink extra water, as sunburn draws fluid away from the body to help repair the damaged skin.

Ibuprofen can also help reduce swelling and help control the pain.

More severe symptoms of sunburn include:

  • blistered or swollen skin
  • a very high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • feeling very tired, dizzy and sick
  • headaches and muscle cramps

If you experience any of these symptoms, call NHS 111. The operator will be able to assess which NHS service you need.

You should also call NHS 111 if a baby or young child is sunburnt.

Hay fever


Hay fever affects up to 1 in 5 people in the UK at some point in their lives. A lot of people find their symptoms are at their worst in the summer, but there are three different types of pollen that can cause hay fever from March to September.

Most people find that they can get relief from their symptoms with treatment. Hay fever can often be controlled with over-the-counter medication from a pharmacist, but if your symptoms are more troublesome, it’s worth speaking to a GP as you may require prescription medication.

You can also reduce symptoms by wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen while outdoors, taking a shower after being outdoors, staying indoors when the pollen count is high and applying a small amount of Vaseline (petroleum gel) to the nasal openings to trap pollen grains.

You can get the pollen forecast from the Met Office.

 

 

Remember, a pharmacist can help you manage hay fever and treat sunburn, bites and stings. Find your nearest pharmacist in Clacton, Colchester and Tendring with our pharmacy finder. Just input your postcode.

 

Looking out for others during hot weather

During extreme weather, it's important that we all look out for our #EssexNeighbours and members of our community that may be more vulnerable. Taking a few minutes to check if a very young, isolated, elderly or disabled neighbour or friend is OK could save a life. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Are they managing to keep themselves and their home cool?
  • When you're out and about, be vigilant that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars.
  • Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed.
 

 

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