This weekend, the weather is set to soar with temperatures hitting the hottest on record in 40 years, in some parts of the country.
Healthcare professionals at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are reminding the local community about the importance of staying safe in the sun, and to look out for those around you who might struggle to look after themselves.
Most at risk in the heat are the elderly and the very young, as they cannot always regulate their body temperatures very well and suffer most in the hot weather.
Vivian Zinyemba, Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner for the Department of Medicine for the Elderly said: “Every summer, we see a large number of elderly patients being admitted to our older people’s wards because of heat-related illness, including sunburns, heat exhaustion and heat-stroke. This is because as we get older, our bodies do not sweat as much and we lose a very important heat-regulation mechanism.
“As temperatures soar this weekend, it’s really important to check in on your elderly relatives and neighbours, making sure their homes are kept cool with a fan, or by closing the windows and pulling the curtains through the hottest parts of the day. This seems counter-intuitive but hot air outside will increase internal temperatures if windows are left open.
“A cold bath may sound like a good idea but please ensure the water temperature isn’t below 15C. Lowering the body temperature rapidly can cause hypothermia or put a person into cardiac arrest due to the shock. Instead, take simple precautions such as drinking plenty of water, because staying well hydrated helps to regulate our body temperature.”
Babies and young children are also at higher risk in the heat. If they are exposed to sunlight, it is important that they are adequately protected against the sun’s UV rays.
Tina Phillips, Macmillan skin cancer clinical nurse specialist, said: “No sun cream provides complete protection, but those which are factor 30 and above will give you the best coverage.
“Regardless of instructions, I would also advise that you reapply sun cream every two hours, especially on young children. If they are playing in water, always top up the protection straight after as well.
“Please do purchase new sun cream as well. Last year’s sun cream will likely have expired and will not be effective, which can be very dangerous for the skin.”
Julie Marshman, Chief Nurse added: “I’m sure you are all looking forward to enjoying the lovely weather with your family and friends this weekend, but please take simple precautions to stay safe from the sun and avoid being admitted to hospital due to heat-related illness.
“If you do feel unwell, don’t wait until your condition worsens and please seek help early on, by phoning the free NHS 111 service or visit the NHS website for medical advice before calling for an ambulance. This will help us free up space for those in the greatest need of urgent care.”