Summer Care - Stay Safe Around the Home in Hot Weather

Hot weather can cause heat exhaustion in people and animals. Also, bacteria on food and rubbish develop more quickly in the heat. Find out how to stay safe around the home in hot weather, including keeping cool and taking extra care with food and waste.

The Met Office issues ‘heat-health watch’ warnings when there’s a risk of high temperatures in England and Wales for more than two days in a row. These warnings help health services and members of the public prepare for health problems caused by hot weather, like heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Listen to your local weather forecast so you know when hot weather is predicted. You can also check the Met Office website for the latest heat-health watch warnings.

Keep cool during hot weather - When it's hot, you can keep cool and reduce the risk of heat exhaustion by;

  • stocking up on supplies like medicines, food and non-alcoholic drinks, so you won’t have to go out in the heat
  • organising your day to avoid being outside during the hottest time (11.00 am to 3.00 pm), if possible
  • doing strenuous outdoor activities, like DIY or gardening, during cooler parts of the day, like early morning
  • taking cold showers or baths and splashing yourself often with cold water
  • drinking plenty of fluids, like juice or water – avoid coffee and alcohol
  • if you have to go out, wearing a hat and light, loose-fitting clothing, taking plenty of water with you and keeping to the shade.
  • Older people and children are particularly at risk from heat exhaustion and heatstroke and will need extra attention.

Keep your house cool - Stay inside the coolest rooms in your house as much as possible. These are probably the rooms that get little sun during the day. To help keep all rooms in your house cool, you can;

  • close pale-coloured curtains – closing dark curtains and metal blinds can make rooms hotter
  • keep windows closed when it’s hotter outside than inside, but open them if the room gets too hot
  • open windows at night when the air is cooler – but close ground floor windows when you leave the house or go to bed.

Take extra care with food - When it’s hot, bacteria on food can multiply very quickly, which increases the risk of food poisoning. It’s important to make sure food is;

  • kept in cooler bags when taking it home from the supermarket or out for a picnic
  • put in the fridge as soon as you get home - the temperature of the fridge should be between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius
  • kept out of the sun
  • out of the fridge for the shortest time possible – no more than a couple of hours.

Bins and waste - Bins and waste can attract flies and maggots and start to smell in the heat. Make sure you;

  • move bins out of direct sunlight and keep their lids closed
  • double bag food waste and nappies and squeeze the air out of the top of the bags before you tie them
  • clean bins with disinfectant after they have been emptied – pour boiling water over them to kill any maggots
  • recycle as much as possible to reduce waste.

Looking after pets - Your pets and other animals can suffer heatstroke in hot weather if they don’t keep cool. Never leave animals inside a car on a hot day and make sure they have;

  • plenty of clean, fresh water to drink
  • cool and shady place to rest
  • It’s also important to cover pet food dishes to prevent flies laying eggs on the food.

Heatstroke - Symptoms of heatstroke include;

  • high body temperature: having a temperature of 40°C (104°F) or above is a major sign of heatstroke,
  • heavy sweating that suddenly stops: if the body is unable to produce any more sweat then this is a big warning sign that the body has become over-heated and dehydrated,
  • tachycardia (a rapid heartbeat),
  • hyperventilation (rapid breathing), and
  • muscle cramps.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you are worried that you or someone you know may have heatstroke symptoms, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Information from http://www.direct.gov.uk.

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