Heatwave Warning: Key Advice

Heatwaves can be dangerous for many people.

Pharmacists should be aware of guidance available at the following links:

High temperatures can be dangerous, especially for:

  • the elderly
  • the very young
  • people with chronic or long-term medical conditions

Action required by professional staff

The heatwave plan that outlines actions required by professional staff is available on the GOV.UK website.

Key actions for professional staff in all settings is to:

  • visit/phone high-risk people
  • reconfirm key public health messages to clients
  • advise carers to contact GP if concerns re health

PSNC has produced a summary infographic which may be used by community pharmacy teams to communicate relevant messages regarding the heatwave. The infographic could be displayed in the pharmacy or printed out to be handed out to patients as appropriate.

Tips for coping in hot weather

  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. You can open the windows for ventilation when it is cooler.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee and cola) or drinks high in sugar.
  • Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot house that is affecting your health or someone else’s, get medical advice.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Heat exhaustion can happen to anyone in hot weather, and if it isn’t treated can lead to heatstroke, which can be dangerous and even fatal.

If you or anyone else feels unwell, drink water and go somewhere cool to rest. If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, weakness or cramps get worse or don’t go away, seek medical help. Dial 111 for advice. Read more about heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Care homes and hospitals

If you run a care home or hospital, this is what to action during alert level three:

  • activate plans to maintain business continuity – including a possible surge in demand;
  • check indoor temperatures are recorded regularly during the hottest periods for all areas where patients reside; and
  • ensure staff can help and advise clients including access to cool rooms, close monitoring of vulnerable individuals, reducing internal temperatures through shading, turning off unnecessary lights/equipment, cooling building at night, ensuring discharge planning takes home temperatures and support into account.