How to keep your cool when the weather’s hot

While most of us look forward to the hot weather every summer, very high temperatures and humidity aren’t particularly good news for health, especially for some.

Most likely to be affected by hot weather are older people (especially those aged 75 or older), babies and young children, those with heart or breathing problems and those who have mobility problems (people who’ve had a stroke, for instance). High temperatures can also cause problems for people who suffer with mental health and those who take certain medications that affect body temperature and sweating.

In fact where health is concerned, very hot summer weather can have a similar impact as that of very cold weather. According to Public Health England (PHE), during a hot spell in August 2003 there were more than 2,000 extra deaths in England and Wales than would normally be expected.

Here are some PHE tips to help keep you cool when the temperature rises:

Find somewhere cool Keep your home cool by closing blinds, shutters and curtains on windows that are exposed to direct sunlight during the daytime, and opening windows during the evening when the air is cooler outside. Also turn off any lights and electrical equipment that aren’t in use. Take a cool bath or shower if you get hot, or visit a cool public building such as a place of worship, library or supermarket. Avoid closed spaces such as cars, as they can get dangerously hot very quickly.

Plan ahead Avoid getting too hot in the first place by staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (around midday) and planning your day to avoid heavy activity during extreme heat.

Drink up To avoid the risk of dehydration have plenty of cold drinks but avoid excess alcohol, caffeine or drinks high in sugar. Check the colour of your urine – if it’s dark, it means you’re becoming dehydrated and need to drink more. Also eat lots of cold foods such as salads and fruit, both of which have a high water content.

Slow down Avoid heavy activity and extreme physical exertion when it’s very hot, as it can make you prone to heat-related illnesses. If you must do some activities, do so during the early morning or evening.

Be aware of the signs Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two potentially serious conditions that can happen if you get too hot. Look out for symptoms such as weakness, feeling faint, headache, muscle cramps, feeling sick, heavy sweating and intense thirst. If you notice that you or someone else has any of these symptoms, lie down in a cool place, remove any unnecessary clothing, drink cool fluids (ideally water) and cool the skin with a cool wet sponge or wrap yourself (or someone else) in a cool wet sheet. If you or they don’t feel better within 30 minutes, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for advice.

Stay connected As well as keeping yourself cool, look out for neighbours, family or friends who may be isolated and unable to care for themselves.

If you take regular medication, ask your local Careway pharmacist about if you need to keep it cool during very hot weather. Your pharmacist can also answer any questions you have on staying healthy during the summer months. To find a Careway pharmacy in your area, use our Pharmacy Finder.