Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Warm weather set to continue

The Met Office has reported that there is a 40 per cent risk of heatwave conditions in the early part of this week in Devon so doctors are reminding people to take care.

The warm weather is set to continue for the rest of this week, next week and possibly into August.

This makes it even more important that people take that extra bit of care and check that their loved ones and neighbours are coping with the heat.

With most schools breaking up for the summer at the end of the week many local people and those who travel from afar are likely to flock to Devon’s beaches to enjoy the sunshine.

While the warm weather is likely to be welcomed by most people it can cause difficulties for the very young, the elderly and people who are seriously ill.

In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse. The main risks posed by a heatwave are dehydration, overheating, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

People who are vulnerable to the effects of heat should try to avoid going out in the sun between 11:00 and 15:00 - the hottest part of the day. People should also drink cold drinks regularly.

Dr Prue Mitchell, a GP from Exmouth and clinical lead for cancer for the Eastern Locality of Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said people should try to stay out of the heat and cool themselves down, look out for others and to take precautions if they are elderly or have a health problem.

“We are all looking forward to the nice weather but it’s important that we remember to stay safe and not risk falling ill and missing out on having fun,” she said.

“Some of the danger signs to watch out for during hot weather include feeling faint and dizzy, shortness of breath and vomiting or increasing confusion.

“I’d recommend keeping out of the sun when it is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm and making sure you wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes and a hat where possible.

“If you are likely to be out in the sun for a long period of time it’s worth making sure you have plenty of cold drinks to hand and avoid drinking alcohol and too much caffeine to avoid dehydrating.

“Even if you’re planning to stay at home you should try to make sure your living space is cool and this is especially important for young children and babies, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions.

 “Keep an eye on your family and neighbours as well, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable.

“Making sure you use at least sun factor protection 15 sunscreen is also important. There are almost 250 cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, and 40 related deaths every year in Devon. The county has some of the highest rates of melanoma in the country.

“Remember if you do want advice about heat exhaustion or heatstroke you can contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or go to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk. If you want advice on sun protection, go to http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sunsmart.”

Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG issued the following advice if the expected hot weather continues:

  • Try to plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat
  • If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am - 3pm). 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.
  • Take cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck.
  • Eat as you normally would. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.
  • Look after children and older people. They are much more prone to the effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours you can help simply by checking on them if possible every day, and reminding them to drink plenty and often. They should have a mixture of drinks including fruit juice and water. Help them to keep their house as cool as possible, drawing curtains during the day, ensuring ventilation at night or using a fan if necessary.  

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