Public urged to stay safe and well with September heatwave on the way
Temperatures are set to top 30 degrees in Surrey and South West London this week – prompting St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group to issue advice on staying safe and well in the heat.
The UK Health Security Agency has issued a Yellow Heat Health Alert, while the Met Office has said large parts of the South of England will “meet heatwave criteria”. Temperatures will sit in the high 20s, and could even go as high as 32 degrees – which would equal the hottest day in 2023.
When temperatures rise, more people – especially those in high-risk groups – can become unwell, and emergency departments – including those at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier hospitals – often see a rise in people attending during hotter weather.
Everyone should stay safe and well in the hotter weather, and take steps to look after themselves and relieve pressure on the NHS by:
- Looking out for people who may struggle to keep cool and hydrated, such as elderly relatives or neighbours
- Keeping windows closed when the room is cooler than outside, but opening them at night when the temperatures has dropped
- Closing curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remembering it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
- Drinking plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Taking water with you, if travelling
- Trying to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
- Staying in the shade
- Applying suncream regularly, and wearing a hat
- Not exercising during the hottest parts of the day
- Having cool showers or baths, putting a loose, cotton, damp cloth or scarf on the back of the neck, and spraying or splashing your face with cold water frequently to help keep your body cool.
Those who need urgent medical help should use NHS 111 online first, which can direct where to go. Pharmacies, meanwhile, can offer advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, and aches and pains.
Heat-related illnesses can include heat exhaustion and dehydration, as well as sunburn.
Sunburn can often be treated at home, while heat exhaustion is not serious and usually gets better when you cool down. But if this turns into heatstroke it needs to be treated as an emergency.
There’s a full list of symptoms here, but those with heat exhaustion may experience the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick and confused
Anyone who is affected by any of these symptoms should cool down as quickly as possible. Find out here how to do this – and what to do if the condition worsens.
To find out more about staying safe during hot weather, visit the NHS’s website.