Protecting yourself and others safe during a heatwave

With temperatures again set to exceed 30C this week, Somerset County Council is asking people to keep an eye out for themselves, vulnerable family, friends and neighbours.

Whilst many of us look forward to enjoying the hot weather, it is worth remembering that sunny spells can pose health risks to some people and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a Level 3 Heat Health Warning for the South West.

It’s important to protect yourself and others from too much sun or heat, to carry water when travelling, and to think of those, such as young children or older people, who may feel the heat more than others.

Cllr Adam Dance, Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity at Somerset County Council has shared some helpful advice for staying cool in the warm weather:

“Much of the advice on beating the heat is common sense. Before hot weather arrives, it is a good time to think about what you can do to protect yourself and your family and friends from heat. If spending time outdoors remember to take water or other hydrating drinks with you and protect yourself from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, usually between 11am-3pm.

“For some people, especially older people and those with underlying health conditions, the summer heat can bring real health risks. Temperatures indoors can be higher than temperatures outdoors. That is why we’re urging everyone to keep an eye on those you know who may be at risk this summer. If you are able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support.”

If you are concerned about someone’s health and well-being because of the heat call the NHS 111 service. If someone develops heatstroke with rapid heart rate, shallow quick breathing, high temperature, cramps and possibly dry skin it is a medical emergency and an ambulance should be called using 999.

Helpful tips for staying safe when the heat arrives:

  • Look out for others, especially older people, those with underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  • Stay cool indoors by closing curtains on rooms that face the sun – and remember that it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • Keep drinks within easy reach – water is better than sugary or caffeinated drinks for staying hydrated. Avoid excess alcohol.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
  • Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling

More information on the common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke are available on NHS.UK.

Additionally, Somerset County Council have teamed up with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue to raise awareness of the risk of wildfires on heathland and forests during the soaring summer temperatures.

Whilst our Fire Service are well trained and resourced to deal with wildfires, they need your help to reduce the likelihood of them happening. Most wildfires are started by human behaviour – a BBQ, campfire, discarded cigarette, or glass lying on dry ground magnifying the sun’s rays. They can also sometimes start due to a bonfire (which was intended to be controlled) getting out of control.

The risk of wildfires is high at the moment. You can help to reduce the risk:

  • Please don’t have bonfires, BBQs or campfires in the countryside, or on any grassland during this very dry weather.
  • If you’re a smoker, please take extreme care with how you put out your cigarettes and dispose of them.
  • Don’t leave litter, and pick it up if you see it. Don’t leave it to someone else. Discarded litter, in particular glass bottles, pose a fire risk when the sun’s rays are magnified through it.
  • Wildfires are more frequent this time of year. Find out how you can prevent wildfires.

If you are concerned about wildfires in your home or local area, please read the Fire Service’s advice on what to do.

If wildfire smoke affects your area, avoid or reduce your exposure to smoke by staying indoors with the doors and windows closed. People with pre-existing heart and lung conditions such as asthma are most susceptible as breathing wildfire smoke may worsen their symptoms. Children and older people may also be susceptible to health impacts.

Where possible avoid smoky areas. If you should travel through a smoky area, ensure that the vehicle windows are closed and the air conditioning is switched to recycle or recirculate if possible.

Listen out for local news reports and information from the emergency services who will provide advice on the precautions you should take.

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For further information, please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk