It is great to see the sunshine in the U.K. this week, it is welcome after all the rain and clouds! However we can all struggle with extreme heat and this can also pose health risks. Thousands of people each year are admitted to hospital as a result of the heat, this includes heat exhaustion or heatstroke and also severe sunburn. Even mild sunburn can cause discomfort and sleeping in the heat can also be problematic.
With temperatures set to rise in Alton and Bordon during the coming weeks and the Met Office’s announcement of a heatwave, we share our top tips for keeping safe and cool during the hot weather, whilst also making the most of the sun and the benefits of Vitamin D!
Can hot weather be dangerous and who can be affected?
A heatwave can pose a number of health risks, particularly for those who are vulnerable and for people who might not be aware of the risks of over heating, spending too long in the sunshine or not applying sun protection or applying it incorrectly.
Those who might be most at risk or vulnerable includes; babies, young children, older people and people with underlying health conditions or long term illness such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or Dementia. We must be extra vigilant of our loved ones and family and friends to keep them happy and healthy as it gets hotter outside and indoors.
Did you know that as we age we are less able to control our body temperature? This is because ageing decreases our ability to sweat. So keeping cool and taking measures such as cooler baths, showers or washes, using a fan and staying hydrated become even more essential as we grow older.
This is not the only risk hot weather poses, the main risks which are outlined by the NHS are;
- Dehydration (not drinking enough water)
- Heat exhaustion/heatstroke
Below we will give some tips to staying cooler and avoiding these health risks!
How to keep cool in hot weather
To help you keep cool in hot weather, avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day, which is between 11.00am – 3.00pm, this is when the sun is at its highest. If you do want to exercise outside then going early morning is best.
If you do decide to go outside during this time, try to keep out of the sun and sit or walk in the shade instead. Always make sure you wear a high factor sunscreen and reapply this regularly – even if you are in the shade. Wearing a wide brim hat or visor can also help you keep cool.
As mentioned above dehydration is a big risk in the sun. It is recommended we drink at least 8 glasses of water but we should try and drink more when it is hot. This does not include alcohol, excess alcohol should be avoided. This can make dehydration a lot worse and we also become less careful with things like sitting in the shade and applying sun cream effectively.
Taking cool showers can really help, or you could sprinkle water onto your skin or clothing. You might find that wetting a flannel or cloth with cold water and pressing this to the back or your neck is also a great trick for keeping cool.
How to keep your house cool in hot weather
Indoors can have its own risks of getting too warm and over heating, during the day it can be tempting to open all the windows but this will only let in all the hot air you want to keep out! It would be far more effective to open windows in the evening when the air is cooler and the temperature has dropped. This will also allow the fresh air to circulate. Do not open windows fully if you are concerned for security.
During the day it is better to have curtains closed in rooms that face the sun, it may even be cooler outside!
How to sleep in hot weather
I think we all struggle with sleep during hot weather, some more than others, but there is a lot you can do to aid better quality sleep and for longer.
Firstly do think about your sleeping environment and create a room of calm, no devices kept on and no lights. Having a window open, even a little to allow cool air to circulate. Electric fans are great at keeping you cool but not when you are trying to get some shut eye! If you are using a fan keep the door open so air can flow.
One of our CareGivers shared the tip to soak your feet in cool water for 10 minutes before going to bed – heat is lost more quickly through your feet! Another CareGiver tip was filling a hot water bottle with cold.
Some of us always need a cover when sleeping so make sure you replace duvets with lower tog rated duvets or cover yourself with a sheet.
What food should I eat during hot weather?
Water content is important in your food during the summer season, anything with a high water content will be your friend.
Salads are perfect because they are versatile, healthy and foods such as celery and cucumber are over 95% water. Both of these are also delicious when sliced and added to a jog of water, the water feels extra refreshing too.
Fruits can also have a high water content and these can also be juiced and made into ice lollies. Favourites of the Right at Home team include melon, oranges, strawberries (definitely with cream sometimes), pineapples and peaches.
Great for getting your five a day and lots of health increasing vitamins too.
What are the signs of overheating?
It is important to be able to spot the signs of overheating or dehydration and also to know what to do or who to call.
Heatstroke can kick in once your body temperature reaches 40c or above. The signs are very similar to heat exhaustion; headache, being very thirsty and dizziness but the person can also have dry skin, stop sweating and/or have difficulty breathing and even lose consciousness.
To treat heat exhaustion it is important to cool down and remain cooler. This can be helped by resting in a shaded area, loosen clothing and sip cold fluids (try to stick to water). If you are unsure of the best treatment then call 111.
- If you know someone who is vulnerable or lives alone, check up on them to ensure they are coping with the heat.
For more top tips on keeping cool during the hot weather, take a look at the NHS website. If you’d like information on Right at Home Alton and Bordon and the homecare services we offer, please get in touch with us on 01420 481716