Heat stress, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are potentially serious health risks for people during a heatwave.
- In heatwaves, significant increases in mortality can occur due especially in those >65years old and more vulnerable groups
- Deaths have occurred at home, in residential care facilities and in hospitals
Who is particularly vulnerable?
Heatwaves can affect any of us, but those most at risk are:
- Babies and children
- People >65 years old
- People with underlying health conditions including problems with breathing, heart, kidneys and diabetes
- People with Alzheimer’s and dementia
Public Health Advice
Keep your indoor environment cool:
- Minimise unnecessary heating - turn off central heating, electrical equipment and lights that are not needed
- Keep out the heat - increase shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight
- Use natural ventilation such as open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside (e.g at night) and where it is safe and secure to do so
- Increase air flow through buildings wherever possible
- If you are using air conditioning, make sure it is using a fresh air supply, which is important to prevent spread of Covid-19
- Electric fans need to be used with caution, as they may not be safe for higher temperatures and should not be used where a person may be incubating or a case of Covid-19
Evaporative cooling – dampening your skin may help keep you cool
- Make sure you have enough water to drink. It is important to stay hydrated
- You might like to leave to drinks in the fridge
- An adult needs approximately 2 litres of liquid over 24 hours. This may be less for smaller people or those with medical conditions
Reduce the risk of dehydration
- Drink more fluids when you feel any dehydration symptoms. The best fluids to drink are water or oral rehydration sachets – chat to your pharmacist about how to use these safely.
- Drink enough during the day so your pee is a pale clear colour.
Carers: making sure someone drinks enough
The person you are caring for may not have a sense of how much they're drinking.
To help them:
- make sure they drink during mealtimes
- make drinking a social thing, like "having a cup of tea"
- offer them food with a high water content – for example, ice cream or jellies, or fruits like melon
When to get medical help
Contact your GP or the Emergency Department if you are unwell and especially if you
- are confused and disorientated
- feel very dizzy
- have not peed all day
- feel like your heart is beating fast
- have fits (seizures)
- are caring for someone who is drowsy or difficult to wake
These can be signs of serious dehydration that need urgent treatment.