Public urged to stay safe in the heat and use NHS services wisely

  • 22 July 2021

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Residents in the area have been urged to stay safe and look out for each other as temperatures continue to soar this week.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for extreme heat in the South West region and Public Health England has extended its heat-health alert until this Friday. The warnings reflect the continued high temperatures, which are expected to remain high during the day and night, and have an impact on public health. It is estimated there were around 2,500 heatwave related deaths last year in England, and thousands more people are treated by the NHS for dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Residents are also being asked to use the appropriate NHS service for their needs. Services in the area remain very busy and the NHS is calling for public support to ensure they remain available for those who need them most.

Dr Jonathan Hayes, Clinical Lead for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), explains more about the dangers of hot weather:

“Many of us enjoy the hotter weather, but when it’s hot for longer periods it can be very risky for our health. For the most vulnerable, such as very young children, older people or those who have a long-term illness, the summer heat can be extremely dangerous. We would urge everyone to look in on vulnerable friends and family during this time.

“Heat stroke is usually preventable and you can help your family stay well by keeping cool and staying hydrated, avoiding excess alcohol, and staying indoors or in the shade during the hottest part of the day between 11am-3pm. This advice is especially important this year for people unwell with Covid-19 who are managing symptoms at home.”

The NHS is also requesting residents use the right services for their needs and self-care or see a pharmacist for everyday medical conditions. Dr Hayes explains more:

“NHS services are very busy at the moment, and you can also help us ensure they remain available for the people who need them most. Talk to your pharmacist about over-the-counter medication for conditions such as sunburn, hay fever and summer colds. If you think you need help right away or you aren’t sure where to go, contact NHS 111 first, by phone or online.”

Richard Brown, Chief Officer at the Avon Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said:

“Pharmacists are medical experts available on your high street. We can dispense medicine on prescription and give you advice on treating common ailments like coughs and colds. We can also help you deal with many summer conditions such as hay fever, sunburn and insect bites, without the need to visit your GP.

“No appointment is needed to see us, and many pharmacies also have separate consulting rooms for confidential advice.”

The NHS website has more information about how to cope in hot weather.

If you or someone else feels unwell with a high temperature during hot weather, it may be heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Find out about the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and when you should get help.

Find out more about what a pharmacist can do, and find your nearest pharmacy on our pharmacy page.

Tips for coping in hot weather

  • look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  • stay cool indoors – many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool
  • close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • if going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately, keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines
  • follow coronavirus social distancing guidance and wash your hands regularly
  • drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day
  • make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling
  • if you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice
  • Remember that while coronavirus restrictions are in place, you will need to follow government guidance to use public spaces safely

Public Health England has more tips on how to beat the heat in the Heatwave Plan for England.

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

Advice on using NHS services appropriately

Pharmacy: Your local pharmacist can provide health advice and help with minor illnesses like colds, rashes, sunburn and hay fever. You don't need an appointment, and they can even provide you with the medicines at the same time.

Mental Health - If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental wellbeing, our 24/7 Support and Connect help is available. For immediate emotional and practical support call 0800 0126549.

111 First - The NHS 111 service is available 24/7 to provide advice, treatment and care. Just ring 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk, and the service will provide advice and refer you to another service if you need it.

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