Heatwave Alert 2013

Heatwave Action – Current Watch: Level 3

Heatwave – as high temperatures are expected to continue across much of England over the next few days, they are expected to reach or come very close to Level 3 Heat Health Watch criteria in London and Southeast England.

The Heat-Health Watch system comprises four levels of response based upon threshold maximum daytime and minimum night-time temperatures. These thresholds vary by region, but an average threshold temperature is 30 C by day and 15 C overnight.

The very young, the elderly and the seriously ill are the groups who are particularly at risk of health problems when the weather is very hot. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.

Level 3 Heatwave Stage requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups. As an employer you have a duty to protect your employees.

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  •  Dehydration
  •  Heatstroke
  •  Heat exhaustion
  •  Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or  breathing

Tips for Coping in Hot Weather:

The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable and reducing health risks:

  •  Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it  is cooler.
  •  Avoid the heat: try to avoid going out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day)
  • heatwaveKeep 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).
  •  Ensure all your water fountain/coolers are working
  • Take regular breaks if working outside
  • Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
  •  Identify the coolest rooms in the building and use these where you can
  •  Remind staff to wear hats if they go outside
  •  Look out for signs of heat exhaustion and Heatstroke

Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

Severe heat can cause heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Keeping everyone cool will reduce the risk of getting either. If someone starts to feel unwell, it’s important to seek medical advice.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  •  headaches
  •  dizziness
  •  nausea and vomiting
  •  muscle weakness or cramps
  •  pale skin
  •  a high temperature

If this happens, move the person to somewhere cool and get them to drink plenty of water or fruit juice. If they can, take a lukewarm shower or sponge down with cold water.

Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  •  headaches
  •  nausea
  •  intense thirst
  •  sleepiness
  •  hot, red and dry skin
  •  a sudden rise in temperature
  •  confusion
  •  aggression
  •  convulsions
  •  loss of consciousness

If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 immediately. Heatstroke can result in irreversible damage to the body, including the brain, or death.

More info on Heatwave and what to do is available on the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/Heatwaveredalert.aspx