NHS advice as hot weather predicted

With the prediction of hot weather and tropical conditions hitting Leeds later this week, the local NHS has issued guidance to help people make the most of the conditions as well as reducing potential pressure on the health system.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has issued the advice in an effort to reduce the impact of weather-related conditions. Last year, across the NHS in England, one of the busiest days experienced by A&E departments was during the period of prolonged warm weather. This included people affected by dehydration, heat stroke and being overexposed to the sun when it’s at its strongest.

In an effort to address this, people are being advised to follow Public Health England’s Beat the Heat messages. This includes:

•  Drinking plenty of fluid particularly water, aiming for at least two litres and avoiding alcohol, caffeine or hot drinks
•  Dressing appropriately and covering up including wearing a hat and sunglasses
•  Avoiding the heat as much as possible and limiting going out during the hottest part of the day (11am – 3pm)
•  Wearing sun screen with a minimum sun protection factor of SP15
•  Looking out for vulnerable neighbours including older people and young children especially those who have an underlying health issue such as asthma or heart condition
•  Following the weather updates and advice on keeping well
•  Finding ways to keep homes cool
•  Calling NHS 111 when you fall ill or get injured but it’s not an emergency
•  Further advice is available from www.nhs.uk/heatwave

The NHS in Leeds is encouraging people to make the best use of local health services should anyone need advice and support to stay well. One of the most convenient ways to do this is by popping into a local pharmacy, where people can buy over-the-counter medicines without the need for a prescription.

Dr Gordon Sinclair, a local GP and Clinical Chair for NHS Leeds CCG, said: “It’s great to see some warmer weather on its way, and an opportunity for people to top up on the vitamin D and possibly their tans. However it’s important that people take precautions and also look out for those most vulnerable to the effects of heat. People with respiratory conditions can find it difficult to cope during spells of prolonged warm or hot weather especially if this impacts on air quality or the pollen count.

“Our health and care services are incredibly busy all year round, spells of extreme weather can have a significant impact especially where people could have taken small precautions to avoid getting ill or injured. If you do start to feel unwell and it’s not an emergency please contact NHS 111, where a trained advisor will help you access the most appropriate care.”

People can stay up to date with the latest weather forecasts and alerts through the Met Office on its social media channels – Facebook (metoffice) or Twitter (@metoffice) or visiting www.metoffice.gov.uk

For summer health advice visit www.nhs.uk/heatwave or pick up a summer health leaflet from your local GP practice in Leeds.

ENDS
Issued by the communications team at NHS Leeds CCG. You can contact the team on 0113 84 35528 or 0113 84 35470. Alternatively please email us: leedsccg.comms@nhs.net
How to cope in hot weather (Source: NHS website www.nhs.uk/heatwave)

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

•  dehydration (not having enough water)
•  overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
•  heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Who is most at risk
A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people 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 – for example, labourers or those doing sports

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes. If it turns into heatstroke it needs to be treated as an emergency.

The signs of heat exhaustion include:

•  headache
•  dizziness and confusion
•  loss of appetite and feeling sick
•  excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
•  cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
•  fast breathing or pulse
•  temperature of 38C or above
•  being very thirsty

The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy.

Call 999 if the person:

• is no better after 30 minutes
• feels hot and dry
• is not sweating even though they are too hot
• has a temperature that’s risen to 40C or above
• has rapid or shortness of breath
• is confused
• has a fit (seizure)
• loses consciousness
• is unresponsive

These can be signs of heatstroke.