Vulnerable people are potentially at greater risk this summer due to overlapping risks across COVID-19 and heat.
The below tips can help us to look after ourselves and others:
Check in on others
Check on older people or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during hot weather. You will need to do things differently this year: 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 guidance on providing care for others including:
- wash your hands when you arrive at the home of the person you care for and often thereafter, 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 (COVID-19) infection and managing their symptoms at home
- If you need to undertake essential travel, ensure you take water with you
- Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day – for example, in the early morning or evening
Keeping the home cool
- Keep your environment cool: keeping your living space cool is especially important for those who need to stay at home this summer.
- Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight and keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day. External shutters or shades are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat
- Open windows at night if it feels cooler outside, although be aware of security issues - especially in ground floor rooms.
- Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun
- Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – 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 COVID-19 infection or have been advised to self-isolate as a contact) then you should not use public spaces.
- Ensure that babies, children or older people are not left alone in stationary cars
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 heatstroke and heat-related illness are available here
Enjoy the water safely
- During warm weather going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief.
- Remember that while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, you will need to follow any additional government guidance to use public spaces safely.
- Take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into the water to cool down
- Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when UV radiation is strongest
- If you have to go out in the heat, wear UV sunglasses, preferably wraparound, to reduce UV exposure to the eyes, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection and wear a hat. Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes. This should reduce the risk of sunburn