Page 16 - Hot_news_July_2015
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Keep Cool and Comfortable
Staying Safe During a Heatwave
Most of us look forward to a hot summer but when it's too hot for too long there are health risks.
This summer, if there is a heatwave, make sure the hot weather doesn't harm you or anyone you know.
Those at particular risk of health problems when the weather is very hot are the very young, the elderly and the seriously ill. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.
Graham Bickler of Public Health England said: "There is considerable evidence that heatwaves are dangerous and can kill. In August 2003, temperatures hit 38oC (101oF) during a nine-day heatwave, the highest recorded in the UK.
"In the 2003 heatwave, there were 2,000 to 3,000 excess deaths [more than usual] in England. Across Europe, there were around 30,000 excess deaths.”
(For further information visit the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk )
When can the heat become
harmful to our health?
An average temperature of 30°C by day and 15°C overnight would trigger a health alert (this figure varies slightly around the UK).
These temperatures can have a significant effect on people's health if they last for at least two days and the night in between.
The Meteorological Office has a warning system that issues alerts if a heatwave is likely. Level one is the minimum alert and is in place from June 1 until September 15 (which is the period that heatwave alerts are likely to be raised).
• Minimum alert – people should be aware of what to do if the alert level is raised.
• Level two alert – there is a high chance that a heatwave will occur within the next few days.
• Level three alert – when a heatwave is happening.
• Level four alert – when a heatwave is severe.
Why is a heatwave a problem?
The main risks posed by a heatwave are:
• Dehydration (not drinking enough water – alcohol does not count).
• Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing.
• Heat exhaustion.
• Heatstroke.
Who is most at risk?
A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people in extreme heat are:
• Older people, especially those over 75.
• Babies and young children.
• People with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems.
• People with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke.
• People with serious mental health problems.
• People on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control.
• People who misuse alcohol or drugs.
• People who are physically active in the sunshine
– for example, labourers or those doing sports.
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