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Dr James Marsh, Joint Medical Director and Renal Consultant

Doctors urge people to stay safe during soaring temperatures

Summer is certainly in full swing and while the hot weather and sunshine is great for enjoying time outside with friends and family, doctors and nurses at Epsom and St Helier hospitals are urging people to stay safe in high temperatures and strong sunshine.

In recent days, the Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for parts of the country, and has warned that temperatures could reach up to 35 degrees Celsius in London and the south east.

Dr James Marsh, Joint Medical Director, explains why hot weather might become dangerous. He said: “In hot temperatures like these, people (especially those in high risk groups, such as the elderly, babies, young children, those with heart, respiratory and serious health problems) can suffer from heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunburn.

“At our hospitals, we are already seeing higher than usual numbers in our A&Es – we saw 544 people in our A&Es on Monday 16 July, making it the sixth busiest day since we started collecting data in October 2005.

“As always, our staff are on hand to care for people who need us and we have put extra steps in place to deal with any increase in the number of people who need hospital treatment. To help keep patients cool and hydrated during this weather, we have given out more than 4,500 ice creams and sorbets since the start of June.

However to try prevent any heat related hospital visits, I would urge everyone to enjoy the heat and sun safely, by making sure that you stay cool and hydrated – and don't forget sunscreen!”.

James’ top tips for keeping cool are:

  • Keep windows closed when the room is cooler than it is outside
  • Open windows at night when the temperature outside has dropped
  • Reduce heat from sunlight coming through the windows by closing blinds and curtains
  • Have plenty of cold drinks, avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
  • Have cool showers or baths, put a loose, cotton, damp cloth or scarf on the back of the neck, spray or splash your face with cold water frequently to help keep your body cool.

Staying in the sun too long, or prolonged exposure to heat, increases the risk of developing heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Heat exhaustion is not serious and usually gets better when you cool down. If it turns into heat stroke it needs to be treated as an emergency. Signs of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, feeling sick and confusion. If the person is no better after 30 minutes, or is not sweating though they are too hot, they could have heat stroke. If you are affected by any of these symptoms, it is important to cool down as quickly as possible and seek further advice from NHS 111 or a doctor. Call 999 if a person has collapsed.

If anyone you know is likely to be at risk during a heatwave, try to check up on them. You can also get help from the environmental health office at your local authority. They can inspect a home for hazards to health, including excess heat.

You can find more information about weather warnings and the latest forecast at www.metoffice.gov.uk (opens in new window) and further health advice at www.nhs.uk (opens in new window).

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