Analysis: Staying safe during a heatwave

Splashing yourself with cool water can help. Picture: Wattie Cheung
Splashing yourself with cool water can help. Picture: Wattie Cheung
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THE hot weather can pose particular challenges to some groups of people, particularly the very young, the elderly and those who already have serious health problems.

Very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse, while dehydration is a major concern for a lot of people.

Other conditions linked to high temperatures include heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

The NHS recommends a raft of common sense solutions to try to reduce the problems caused by the heat, which apply to both healthy people and those in at-risk groups.

When it is hotter outside, people should shut their windows and pull down the shades and open them again for ventilation when it is cooler.

Experts also recommend staying out of the sun and not going out between 11am and 3pm – the hottest part of the day – if you are vulnerable to the effects of heat. Having cool baths or showers and splashing yourself with cool water can also help.

Taking lots of cold drinks such as water and fruit juice is recommended, but tea, coffee and alcohol should be avoided due to their dehydrating effects.

People should make sure they have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medication they need, in case they are unable to go out.

Wearing loose, cool clothing and a hat if you go outdoors is also recommended.

If you have friends, relatives or neighbours who may be more at risk, make sure you check on them regularly.

If someone feels unwell, they should be taken somewhere cool to rest and given plenty of fluids to drink.

Medical help should be sought if symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or do not go away.

• Lyndsay Buckland is health correspondent for The Scotsman.