NHS Devon asks people to stay safe during this hot weather
Published: 6 September 2023
We are currently experiencing an extended summer with a period of particularly hot weather. Hot weather is something many people look forward to but warm spells can pose health risks for some people.
NHS Devon Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nigel Acheson, said: “Healthcare services in Devon have been very busy this week treating a high number of people suffering from the effects of dehydration. Hospitals and the ambulance service have been under a lot of pressure over the last few days.
“While it is lovely for people to enjoy this extra warm spell, just because the summer holidays are over for most, it doesn’t mean hot weather isn’t a risk to people’s health. It’s important to protect yourself and others from too much sun or heat, to carry water when travelling and to think of those, such as young children or older people, who may not cope as well in the heat.”
Who is vulnerable?
Anyone can become unwell when the weather is hot. People who are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell include:
- older people aged 65 years and over
- babies and young children aged 5 years and under
- people with underlying health conditions particularly heart problems, breathing problems, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, or mobility problems
- people on certain medications
- people with serious mental health problems
- people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example from diarrhoea and vomiting)
- people who experience alcohol or drug dependence
- people who are physically active and spend a lot of time outside such as runners, cyclists and walkers
- people who work in jobs that require manual labour or extensive time outside
- people experiencing homelessness, including rough sleepers and those who are unable to make adaptations to their living accommodation such as sofa surfers or living in hostels.
- people who live alone and may be unable to care for themselves
What can we do to stay safe?
There are a few simple things you can do to stay safe when we experience high temperatures:
- Keep a close eye on older people, young children, and people with long term health conditions – their bodies can struggle to cope with the heat and they are at greater risk.
- Please only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. For non-life-threatening emergencies, please visit NHS 111 online.
- If you’re waiting for an ambulance, please don’t call back – unless the patient’s condition has deteriorated or you no longer need an ambulance – to ask when one will arrive, those details can’t be provided, as ambulances are sent to patients with the most life-threatening conditions first.
- Keep cool indoors. Close curtains on windows that face the sun, open windows when its cooler outside than in (when it is safe to do so) and turn off any unnecessary electrical items. Remember it is sometimes cooler sitting in a park under a tree than it is in a home that is too hot.
- If you’re out and about, try to keep out of the sun and avoid physical exertion in the hottest part of the day. Stay safe when undertaking activities such as swimming.
- Check weather forecasts and if you’re spending time outdoors remember to travel with bottled water, apply sunscreen frequently and protect yourself from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, between 11am and 3pm.