Published: Wednesday, 24th June 2020

As temperatures soar in Medway and the surrounding areas, residents are being encouraged to stay safe in the sun and to look after vulnerable friends and relatives.

During hot weather, we all need to take sensible precautions to avoid heat-related illness.

Those most commonly affected by high temperatures are young children, older people, pregnant women, and those with long-term medical conditions and disabilities.

Residents are urged to regularly check on vulnerable friends and family during this time, and make sure they have plenty of water and supplies, including medication.

We can all enjoy the warm weather by following these simple steps to stay safe in the heat. Our top 5 tips are:

  • keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade
  • apply sunscreen of at least SPF30 with UVA protection. (Remember to reapply after swimming.)
  • avoid extreme physical exertion – pace yourself
  • wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes, a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes

Keeping cool during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. Many people who are at risk of harm from heat are also at greater risk of severe illness due to coronavirus and may need to spend more time at home than they would usually. Others may need to stay at home because they are self-isolating or recovering from the infection. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, its especially important to know what actions people can take to keep safe from high temperatures.

Check in on others: check on older people, neighbours, family and friends everyday during the hot weather. You will need to do this differently this year due the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Keep in touch remotely over the phone or using video technology. 

If this is not possible and you need to provide direct care to someone at risk from the hot weather, follow the below guidance:

  • wash your hands when you arrive at the home of the person you care for, and often during your visit, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • do not visit if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care

Stay hydrated: drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Keeping hydrated will be especially important for people who are unwell with coronavirus and managing their symptoms at home.

Cool yourself down

There are lots of ways to keep yourself cool in the heat, including:

  • drinking plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
  • eating cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with high water content
  • taking a cool shower or bath
  • sprinkling water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck

Remember: do not enter tidal waters in an attempt to cool down, for example the River Medway. This is very dangerous.

Keep your environment cool

Keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, the elderly, people with chronic health conditions and those who can’t look after themselves it is also incredibly important for those who need to stay at home this summer.

Remember to:

  • place a thermometer in your main living space and bedroom to keep a check on the temperature.
  • keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day. Open windows at night when the temperature has dropped. (Remember to close windows to keep your home secure.)
  • close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun. Care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or putting reflective material in-between them and the window space.
  • turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment as they generate heat
  • Go indoors or outdoors during hot periods, whichever feels cooler. If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately - keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines. Remember, if you are required to stay at home (e.g. because you have coronavirus or have been advised to self-isolate) then you should not use public spaces.
  •   Ensure that babies, children or older people are not left alone in stationary cars. 
  • If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping. Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C.

Look out for others

Keep an eye on elderly neighbours, friends and relatives as well as young children. Make sure they are able to keep cool by:

  • ensuring that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary vehicles.
  • checking on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave.
  • being alert and calling a doctor if someone is unwell or further help is needed.  
  • making sure pets have access to plenty of fresh drinking water.

Look out for the signs of heat-related harm

  • If you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate, avoid excess alcohol.
  • If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, for example after sustained exercise during very hot weather), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 mins and if not, they should seek medical help. Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms, or if symptoms persist
  • Call 999 if a person develops any signs of heatstroke as this is a medical emergency.   

Further information on preventing heat related illness is available from the NHS choices website.

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