Health & Safety
1 July 2009
Although severe heatwaves are not common in England summer heat can be fatal. In case of a heatwave, make sure you look after your own health and that of your family.
Keep out of the heat
- If a heatwave is forecast, try and plan your day to help you to stay out of the heat.
- Try to avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm).
- If you need to take part in strenuous outdoor activity, like sport, DIY, or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day, like early morning.
- If you do go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light, loose-fitting clothes, preferably cotton.
- If you’ll be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you.
- Stay inside, in the coolest rooms in your home, as much as possible.
- Close the curtains in rooms that get a lot of sun.
- Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation. If you are worried about security, at least open windows on the first floor and above.
- Take cool showers or baths, and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck.
- Drink regularly even if you do not feel thirsty – water and fruit juice are best.
- Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as they can cause dehydration.
- Eat as you normally would. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.
- Look after yourself and others, especially those at greater risk such as elderly people and children: symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness or cramps, pale skin and a high temperature. If you, or someone you know experiences a sudden rise in temperature, confusion or loss of consciousness, heat stroke may have developed.
- If you have these symptoms, rest for several hours, keep cool and drink water or fruit juice. Seek medical advice if you get worse or the symptoms don't go away.
- Contact your doctor, a pharmacist or NHS Direct (0845 4647) if you’re worried about your health during a heatwave, especially if you are taking medication, or have any unusual symptoms.