The Local Government Association and the Met Office have produced a useful guide to keeping cool in hot weather, a time that can be fatal for some disabled and elderly people. Back in the hot spell in August 2003 about 2000 more people died than would usually be the case.
The dangers to watch out for include feeling faint and dizzy, shortage of breath, vomiting, or increasing confusion. Take immediate action if danger symptoms occur – cool down as quickly as possible. Do not take aspirin or paracetamol – doing so can make you worse. Seek advice from NHS 111, a doctor, or ring 999.
But do carry on taking prescribed medicines. Although many prescription medicines can reduce your heat tolerance you should keep taking them, but take extra care to keep cool.
Try to get help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache; move to a cool place as soon as possible and take your temperature.
Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate. Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular cramps (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen), and drink oral rehydration solutions containing electrolytes. Medical attention is needed if heat cramps last more than an hour.
Among the disability groups most at risk are people with serious mental health problems, those with mobility problems, and those with a serious chronic condition.
Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C, but above that temperature they may cause dehydration. The advice is not to aim the fan directly on the body and to have regular drinks. This is especially important in the case of people confined to bed.
If you, or somebody you know, find your home to be uncomfortably hot seek medical advice, and seek advice from the environmental health department at your local authority about the home.