Nurses urge public to check on elderly friends and relatives during heatwave

Nurses are urging the public to check on elderly friends and relatives during week-long heatwave.

As the UK experiences its hottest week so far, the Royal College of Nursing has urged people to check on elderly relatives and neighbours, and others who may be at risk.

While many welcome the sunny weather, overheating, heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration are all serious risks during hot weather, especially for elderly people, young children and those with certain chronic health conditions.

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Hot weather can have devastating consequences. In France in 2003, nearly 15,000 people are thought to have died during a heatwave when temperatures consistently hit more than 40 degrees.

Many of the victims were elderly people living alone.

How to beat the heat

  • Keep the sun out by closing blinds and curtains, and shut windows to keep the inside of the home cool.
  • If possible, don’t go out at the hottest time of day, between 11am and 3pm if you are at risk.
  • Planning ahead can help avoid going out too much when it’s hot – make sure you have enough food and any medications you need.
  • If you do go outside wear loose clothing and a hat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower to reduce your temperature, and have regular cold drinks, particularly water.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea and colas.
  • Check up on relatives and friends who may be at risk.

Anna Crossley, Professional Lead for Acute, Emergency and Critical Care at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Heat can effect anyone, but checking on older relatives or neighbours is important - they are particularly at risk, as are infants, and those with long term conditions or other health issues that could make it hard for them to adapt to the hot weather.

“As well as drinking plenty of water, people should keep themselves cool by wearing loose clothing, and keeping their home cool by shutting windows and drawing curtains until the weather is cooler in the evening.

“Be on the lookout for early signs you are suffering from the effects of the heat. Commonly these include symptoms such as heat rash, headache, thirst, and swelling ankles. If you or another person experiences this, help yourself, help others, and get into the shade.  Call NHS 111 if you are concerned ”

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