England’s chief nursing officer (CNO) has warned of the ‘high risk’ of heat exhaustion or heatstroke during the current heatwave across the country and has urged people to check in on loved ones and neighbours.
With temperatures up to 33⁰C expected to continue over the weekend, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which provides alerts for the health and social care sector in England, has issued an amber heat alert across most of the country.
The warning highlights increased risks for those more vulnerable to heat, including people over the age of 65 or with pre-existing health conditions, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
‘We know there is a high risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke during hot weather, especially among children, older people and those with long-term conditions like diabetes or heart problems, so it is a good idea to check on loved ones, friends and neighbours,’ said CNO Dame Ruth May.
The heat alerts – yellow for the North East and amber for the rest of England – began at midday on Monday and will continue until 9pm on Sunday.
The heatwave warning has led to a surge in people seeking heat exhaustion advice from the NHS website this week, with visits peaking at one every eight seconds on Thursday.
NHS England figures show there were 32,130 visits to the health advice page on heat exhaustion and heatstroke from Sunday to Thursday this week, compared with 4,928 for the same period last week – an increase of 552%.
‘The NHS website has a range of useful information pages aimed at helping people keep themselves and their loved ones safe during hot weather,’ Dame Ruth said.
‘Keeping the body cool and drinking plenty of fluids is vitally important, as well as dressing sensibly. We also advise using high-factor sunscreen and limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun to avoid the risk of sunburn and to prevent skin cancer.’
The NHS heat exhaustion page offers guidance on checking for the signs of heat exhaustion, which include tiredness, dizziness, feeling sick, and fast breathing or heartbeat.
It also details how to cool someone down, and prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke during hot weather, with advice including drinking plenty of cold drinks, taking cool baths or showers, wearing light-coloured and loose clothing, sprinkling water over skin or clothes, and avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm.