Be prepared for heatwaves

The Met Office monitor temperatures through summer and communicate heatwave warnings through the media where necessary.

Whilst extreme heat is dangerous to everyone it is especially so to babies and young children, older people, those living in care homes, and those in certain at-risk groups.

If you care for people who could be at risk during a heatwave, it's important that you plan ahead - taking action in advance can help reduce the number of excess deaths from heat.

What symptoms to look out for

In a severe heatwave the body can overheat and dehydrate, leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pale skin
  • a sudden rise in temperature.

If you are suffering from heat exhaustion you should move somewhere cool and drink plenty of water or fruit juice. If possible, take a lukewarm shower, or sponge yourself with cold water. If heat exhaustion is left untreated, heatstroke can develop, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning. Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • an intense thirst
  • sleepiness
  • hot, red and dry skin
  • a sudden rise in temperature
  • confusion
  • aggression
  • convulsions
  • and a loss of consciousness.

Heatstroke can result in irreversible damage to the body, including the brain, or death so it is important to look after yourself and others in particularly hot weather.

If a heatwave is forecast

  • Listen to bulletins on radio and television and follow health advice
  • Try to plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat; if possible, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am - 3pm)
  • If you can't avoid strenuous activity like sport, DIY, or gardening, keep it for the cooler parts of the day such as early morning
  • If you must go out, stay in the shade
  • Wear a hat and light loose fitting clothes, preferably cotton
  • If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you
  • If you can, stay inside, in the coolest rooms in the house. Close curtains in rooms that get a lot of sun
  • Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside and open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation
  • 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
  • Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water
  • Avoid alcohol, tea and coffee
  • Don’t go swimming in reservoirs, rivers or canals to cool down – it may be tempting but it can also be dangerous
  • Older people are more prone to the effects of heat. Help older neighbours and relatives by checking on them, every day if possible, and reminding them to drink plenty and often. Help them keep their homes cool by drawing curtains, opening windows at night and using a fan if necessary
  • Contact your doctor, a pharmacist or the NHS 111 helpline if you’re worried about your health during a heatwave, especially if you are taking medication, or have any unusual symptoms.

Further information

The NHS has produced a leaflet, giving advice on how to spot the symptoms of heatstroke during a heatwave, and setting out the first aid that should be given to people who are affected in this way. To download this leaflet and find out more information about being prepared for a heatwave, visit Heatwave: Be prepared.

Calderdale Council will endeavour to:

  • Work closely with local health authorities to ensure that during a heatwave known vulnerable people receive any additional care required
  • Ensure residential and care homes receive advice about what to do for their clients during a heatwave
  • Provide public information messages in partnership with the Health Authorities.

See also