UK weather many be changeable, if there’s one constant, it’s that the British just don’t cope with extreme conditions that well. We may crumble at the slightest hint of a heatwave or cold snap, but at least it gives us an excuse to talk about the weather non-stop – something we are rather good at. We have been preparing you for summer weather with our money saving clothes deals but now its time to enjoy the weather safely.
You may have seen mention this morning of a forthcoming heatwave that’s due to hit Europe any time now. The South-East is set to see temperatures soar to the low thirties and they’ll even get pretty high north of the border too (something that doesn’t happen that often). But in all seriousness, a heatwave is not a cause for celebration. There will be many heading down to the local park to catch some rays, but with a heatwave comes a whole host of health warnings, and large sections of the population are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. So how can we all keep cool in this impending heatwave and what danger signs should we be looking out for?
The Effects of a Heatwave
According to the NHS site, there are three main health risks associated with a heatwave.
- Dehydration, where the body is losing more water than it is taking in. This upsets the balance of minerals in your body and can make you feel dizzy, thirsty and tired.
- Heat exhaustion, which is linked to dehydration and can mean you start to feel very hot when you experience this mineral imbalance.
- Heatstroke, which is a rare, but much more serious. Your body is no longer able to cool itself and your body temperature can reach dangerous levels.
Who is Most at Risk in a Heatwave?
Although many of us welcome the hot weather with open arms (especially after so many weeks of rain), there are certain sections of the population who are more at risk during a heatwave.
- The elderly, especially those over the age of 75
- Babies and young children
- Those who suffer from chronic breathing or heart problems
- Those of who take medications which can affect their temperature control
- People who suffer from serious mental health conditions
- People who suffer from conditions which affect their mobility such as Parkinson’s Disease or those who have had a stroke in the past
- People who have a physically active job or participate in sports
- Those who misuse alcohol or drugs
Steps You Can Take to Reduce the Effects of the Heat?
If possible, stay indoors between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day)
When it starts to become very hot indoors, stay in the coolest part of your house or flat, and when it becomes hotter outside than inside, pull down the shades and close the windows, then open again when it cools down. If possible, make sure you have lighter-coloured curtains and keep them closed as dark colours can heat a room up.
- Drink regularly and avoid drinks with high sugar and caffeine content as well as excessive alcohol consumption. Carry water when you are out, especially if you’re using public transport or walking long distances.
- Stock up on supplies during cooler periods to avoid going out during the hotter times.
- Wear loose clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen when venturing outdoors.
- Check in on those who are more vulnerable in the heat such as elderly neighbours and friends.
- Watch the news and follow social media for regular weather updates.
- Seek medical advice from a doctor or NHS helpline if yourself or someone else starts to shows signs of extreme heat exhaustion or heatstroke including dizziness, extreme thirst, cramps, breathlessness and chest pain.
Pet Care During a Heatwave
It’s not just us humans who can suffer during a heatwave – it’s vital that we take care of our animal friends too as they are also at risk.
Dogs can also fall victim to heatstroke just like us, with signs including heavy panting, red gums or tongue, lack of co-ordination, tiredness and diarrhoea. To protect them in the heat, make sure you don’t leave them in a hot car or conservatory, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes, provide them with plenty of water, both indoors and when out and about, keep walks short and at cooler times of the day, apply sunscreen on light patches, keep long-hair clipped and take extra care with old dogs and those susceptible to breathing difficulties.
Cat owners need to follow much the same advice, even though cats appear to enjoy the heat more. Try and keep them indoors on particularly hot days, but make sure they have a cool spot to rest and have access to water at various points in the house. If you notice your cat leaving sweaty paw prints, this means it needs to replenish its fluids.
Even though the heatwaves don’t hit us too often in the UK, their debilitating effects can be hard to bear for many. We had a scout around for some great My Favourite Voucher Codes merchants that have great deals on cooling products. If you find you need to invest in some fans, or even a portable air conditioning unit for your home, Maplin could help you find some more specialist products, or you can find excellent value pedestal and desk fans with r Tesco. For those looking for pet advice and accessories to use in the hot weather, Monster Pet Supplies are a valuable resource this summer.
So stay hydrated, stay in the shade, and stay alert for those who might be more at risk than yourself. And in a few weeks’ time, we’ll have no doubt forgotten what hot weather feels like…
By Anna Scott, 18th July 2016