British Red Cross issues health and safety advice ahead of UK heatwave

The British Red Cross is asking us all to keep an eye on anyone who may be vulnerable ahead of UK heatwave as temperatures are predicted to soar

The charity, which helps people prepare for and cope with times of crisis, has issued a series of first aid tips ahead of the upcoming heatwave.

Simon Lewis, head of crisis response at the British Red Cross, said:

“We know that those at greatest risk during heatwaves tend to be elderly people, very young children, pregnant women, those with pre-existing medical conditions and people working outside.

“As the weather gets really hot, we would ask people to show a bit of kindness close to home and check up on their neighbours, family and friends to make sure they are coping. I’d also advise everybody to familiarise themselves with our first aid tips in case anybody around them is affected.”

If you are concerned about a friend or family member who is homebound, you could check:

  • Are they receiving at least two visits a day?
  • Are they shaded from the sun by curtains or blinds?
  • Do they have enough to eat and drink?
  • Is the temperature below 25c?
  • Is the fridge working?
  • Are they lightly dressed?
  • Do they have a phone with important numbers written down?
  • Do they know about the importance of keeping cool?

Joe Mulligan, Head of First Aid Education at the British Red Cross, said:

“As temperatures rise across the UK this week, it’s important to remember some simple ways to stay safe during this period of intense heat.

“Evidence shows that number of people visiting their GP for heat-related illness can double during a heatwave.

“Many heat-related illnesses occur because someone has been in the sun too long or hasn’t had enough to drink. Avoiding spending time in the sun at the hottest time of the day, drinking plenty of water and even wearing a hat can all make a real difference.”

How to help someone with heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion happens when someone loses too much fluid and salt from sweating in hot conditions.

If a person has heat exhaustion, they may:

  • Be dizzy or confused and complain of a headache
  • Be sweating and have pale, cool skin
  • Feel nauseous

What to do

  1. Help them to a cool place and get them to rest. This will help them start to cool down.
  2. Give them plenty of water to drink. Isotonic sports drinks are even better as they will also help replace the salts lost through sweating.
  3. Seek medical advice. Even if the person appears to recover fully, they should seek medical advice. If their condition gets worse, call 999 for emergency help.

How to help someone with heatstroke

Sitting out in the sun for too long can make the body overheat and lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke happens when someone gets so hot that their body can’t control their temperature. It’s much less common than sunburn and very serious – the person needs help straight away.

A person with heatstroke may:

  • Have hot, flushed and dry skin
  • Have a headache, feel dizzy or be confused and restless
  • Get worse quickly and become unresponsive

What to do

  1. Call 999 immediately or get someone else to do it.
  2. Cool them. Quickly move them into a cool environment and remove outer clothing. Wrap them in a cold, wet sheet and keep pouring water over them.
  3. Keep cooling them while waiting for help to arrive. If their temperature returns to normal and they no longer feel hot to touch, you can stop cooling them.

How to help someone with sunburn

What to do

  1. Move into the shade.
  2. Have frequent sips of cold water. Cool the affected skin by dabbing with cold water.
  3. Apply after sun lotion to soothe the area.
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