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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Health advice on keeping cool and well during hot weather

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This summer has been one of the hottest summers since records began. As many of us revel in the hot summer sunshine, others are at risk of getting sunstroke and heatstroke. We're seeing increasing numbers of patients who are suffering as a result of the continued hot weather in this area.

Staying cool and healthy 

Prevention is key in hot weather and there are three steps you should take:

keep hydrated 
keep yourself cool
keep your home cool.

You might also want to check up on your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours too. Remember - you should only call 999 in an emergency. Your local GP and pharmacist are able to give advice, and you can call 111 for information too.   

Becoming unwell in the heat

Symptoms like sickness or nausea, headaches, heavy sweating, dizziness and fainting, and tiredness can all be signs of heat exhaustion.

While most people in good health will not suffer these symptoms if they drink enough water and seek out shade and cooler places, older people, young children, and people with underlying heart or lung conditions are at more risk.

Dehydration also increases the risk of a fall.

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down. Public Health England has issued the following instructions to cool someone down, and they should feel better within 30 minutes.

  • Move them to a cool place
  • Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly
  • Get them to drink plenty of water: sports or rehydration drinks are OK
  • Cool their skin - spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them: cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too
  • Stay with them until they are better

You should only call 999 in an emergency and if the person is:

  • no better after 30 minutes
  • still feeling hot and dry
  • not sweating even though they are too hot
  • showing a temperature that's risen to 40C or above
  • experiencing rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • is confused, has a fit, or loses consciousness.

These are all signs of heat stroke which is a medical emergency.