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In summer, we all experience warmer temperatures and long, sunny days. However, it is always important to take care of yourself in hotter climates. Warm weather isn’t for everybody and it can often have an impact on the elderly and those who are vulnerable.

Our blog this week at Horizon Care looks into the elderly, hot weather and what you can do to make the heat more bearable.

Who is Vulnerable During Hot Weather?

Last week the hottest temperature on UK records was registered in Cambridge. The Met Office confirmed that temperatures reached a staggering 38.7C (or 101.7F), beating the previous record from 2003. Summers are always hot and this year looks to be no different.

Some people may enjoy the hot weather however others struggle. The elderly, children, infants and those with specific chronic health conditions can often become ill as a result of heat. Others at risk include:

  • Serious Mental Health Problems
  • Mobility Problems
  • Physically Active (sports, labourers etc)
  • Those on Certain Medicines
  • Alcohol or Drug Issues

Symptoms to Look Out For

When a heatwave does come, there are a few things that you can do to prepare if you feel that you are at risk. Keeping up to date with the latest weather reports will give you enough warning and make sure you know about any changes. Although, if the heat comes and makes it difficult for you to stay comfortable, it is important that you keep an eye out for symptoms.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two conditions that you should be aware of. In most cases, heat exhaustion will not become serious if you cool down in 30 minutes. However, if this does not happen, then there is a risk that heat stroke will occur.

Some of the main symptoms shown in heat exhaustion cases are:

  • Headache
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Confusion and Dizziness
  • Pale and Clammy Skin
  • Feeling Sick
  • Fast Breathing or Pulse
  • Very Thirsty
  • Arm, Leg or Stomach Cramps
  • Temperature of 38° +

What Do I Need To Do?

keeping cool in summer

The best thing to do if you notice these symptoms is to move a person to a cool place. Get them to lie down with their feet raised slightly and keep them hydrated and cool. If they do not improve after 30 minutes, call 999. Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Hot and Dry
  • Temperature above 40°
  • Unresponsive
  • Not Sweating but Still Hot
  • Lose Consciousness
  • Rapid or Shortness of Breath
  • Has a Fit or Seizure
  • Confusion

Keeping Cool and Hydrated

If you know hot weather is coming, then there are some things that you can do. Ensure that you are drinking enough cold drinks and are wearing loose clothing to ventilate yourself. Also, avoiding the sun at its hottest point between 11 am and 3 am is another thing to do.

On top of this, take cool showers or baths, avoid alcohol and extreme exercise, and keep air flowing through your house. It is best to open windows during the night when it is cooler rather than during the height of the heat.

When it comes to sleeping at night, try and sleep in a cool room. Another thing that you can do is to swap out your duvet for lighter bed sheets.

More advise can be found on the NHS website about coping in a heatwave.