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How to avoid heat exhaustion this summer

30 June 2015

When summer finally arrives everyone enjoys getting out in the sun but overdoing it can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, and for some people this can have serious health consequences. This week may see some good weather arrive at last, says the Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum, but being careful and taking precautions means that we can enjoy it rather than suffer from it.

Bedfordshire should experience a few hot and sunny days this week due to high pressure east of the UK bringing a very warm and humid airflow from Iberia and France across the East of England leading to some very warm or hot conditions.

Temperatures are currently expected to rise into the high 20s Celsius by Tuesday, 30 June, and possibly into the low 30s or higher between Wednesday and Friday (1 to 3 July). Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and parts of both Cambridgeshire and Essex are currently the places most likely to record the highest temperatures.

These hot conditions, combined with some poor air quality, means that these weather-related factors may have some serious impacts, especially for people with pre-existing health conditions. High temperatures and humidity also mean a heightened ‘thunderstorm risk’ later in the week.

The hot weather could leave people caught out in the sun exposed to heat exhaustion or sun stroke. Don’t be fooled, both can be medical emergencies. Take some simple precautions as the temperatures rise this week:
• Check the weather forecast for peak temperatures
• Stay out of the direct sun between 11.00 am and 3.00pm
• Wear loose-fitting clothing, a wide brimmed hat and use a high factor sunscreen
• Avoid strenuous exercise like jogging
• Keep your house cool by opening windows and using fans
• Move into cool rooms, draw curtains and use fans to cool down
• Drink plenty of water or fruit juice but not alcohol, tea and coffee
• Eat normally, but eat foods containing more water such as salads and fruit
• Take a lukewarm shower or bath or sponge yourself regularly with cold water
• If you have older relatives and neighbours, check that they are aware and know what actions to take.

Recognising and dealing with heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body temperature rises above 37°C (98.6°F) to 40°C (104°F). Be aware for signs of dizziness, feeling nauseas or being sick, muscle weakness or cramps, and high temperature. If someone suffers these take them to a cool place, give them plenty of cool water or fruit juice to drink, not tea, coffee or alcohol and remove any excess clothing. If they don’t feel better within half an hour, dial 999 for an ambulance.

Someone might have heat stroke if they are experiencing headaches, nausea, intense thirst, rapid breathing, sleepiness, hot, red and dry skin and a sudden rise in temperature. They may also be experiencing confusion, be aggressive, have convulsions and partial or full loss of consciousness. Immediately dial 999 for an ambulance. While waiting, if you are able, move them to a cool place, remove excess clothing and fan them. If they're conscious, give them cool, but not cold, water to drink.

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