York GP urges patients to stay safe in heatwave
Updated: 15 July 2022
With weather warnings issued for much of England, a GP in York is encouraging patients to follow the guidance to stay safe and avoid feeling unwell during the heatwave.
Although hot weather is welcomed by most people, when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks. In England, there are on average 2,000 heat-related deaths every year.
The Met Office has issued an amber warning on Sunday 17 July, and a red warning for extreme heat on Monday 18 July and Tuesday 19 July. Population-wide adverse health effects may be experienced, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to serious illness or danger to life.
During this period, 999 services should be used in emergencies only. People who require non-emergency health advice should contact 111.
Dr Abbie Brooks, a GP Partner at Priory Medical Group, said: "Whilst we want everyone to enjoy the good weather, the very young, the elderly and the seriously ill should take extra care, as these groups are most susceptible to the risk of health problems when the weather is hot.
"The heat can make heart and breathing problems worse, and cause symptoms such as dehydration, overheating, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you see someone struggling, offer them water and help them into the shade."
With the summer heat making it tempting to go for a swim to cool off, the Royal Life Saving Society warns that the temperature of open water will still be low, which may lead to difficulties caused by cold water shock.
Those planning to go swimming should choose a safe place, such as a lifeguarded beach.
Why is hot weather a problem?
The main risks posed by hot weather are:
- not drinking enough water (dehydration)
- overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
- heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Who is most at risk?
Hot weather can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:
- older people – especially those over 75
- those who live on their own or in a care home
- people who have a serious or long-term illness – including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson's disease or some mental health conditions
- those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and the very young, the bed-bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer's disease
- people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – those who live in a top floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside
Tips for coping in hot weather
- look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
- stay cool indoors – many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool
- close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
- if going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately, keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines
- follow coronavirus social distancing guidance and wash your hands regularly
- drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
- never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
- try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
- walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
- avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day
- make sure you take water with you if you are travelling
- if you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice
Watch out for signs of heat-related illness
If you or someone else feels unwell with a high temperature during hot weather, it may be heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Find out about the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and when to get help.< Back to all news stories