How to keep cool this summer

Whilst for most of us it is good to experience the warmth of the sun and see the bright blue skies, for some it can cause difficulties if they don't take care in the sunshine. Those caring for young children, the elderly or people with long term illness should monitor the room temperatures to prevent heat related problems which could lead to ill health or in more severe cases death.

Follow these tips to look after yourself and others during hot weather periods:

Stay out of the heat

  • Keep out of the sun between 11.00am and 3.00pm when it is at its hottest
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat or light scarf
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes, covering as much of the skin as possible

Cool yourself down

  • Have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with high water content
  • Take a cool shower, bath or body wash
  • Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck

Keep your environment cool

  • Keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions or who can’t look after themselves
  • Place a thermometer in your main living room and bedroom to keep a check on the temperature. Local threshold maximum temperatures defined by the Met Office National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS) for the North West are 30°C Day time and 15°C night time
  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped
  • Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or putting reflective material in-between them and the window space
  • Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment - they generate heat
  • Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air
  • If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping
  • Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C
  • When it's hot, bacteria on food can multiply very quickly, which increases the risk of food poisoning.  Make sure food is only out of the fridge for a short period prior to eating or cooking.  Ensure any barbequed food is cooked thoroughly and not left sitting in the sun before or after cooking

Look out for others

  • Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool
  • Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars
  • Check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave
  • Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed

If you have a health problem

  • Keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator (read the storage instructions on the packaging)
  • Seek medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications

If you or others feel unwell

  • Try to get help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache; move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature
  • Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate
  • Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, in many cases after sustained exercise during very hot weather), and drink plenty
  • Medical attention is needed if heat cramps last more than one hour

Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist.