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Dr Know: Talking about the weather – tips for coping with the heat

In Britain, we have an odd reputation for talking about the weather – a lot, writes Dr Jonty Heaversedge…

But being prepared for our unpredictable weather can be very useful – and sometimes life-saving, especially when our climate can impact our health and wellbeing.

For instance, many of us welcome periods of warm summer sunshine, but when temperatures do start to soar – as they’ve done recently – it’s important to be prepared so that hot weather doesn’t harm you or anyone you know.

Keeping cool is essential; avoid the heat by spending time in the shade when the sun is at its hottest – usually between 11am and 3pm.

If your house is too warm, try and regulate the temperature by opening windows for ventilation, or shutting blinds to keep out the sunlight. And you can always try a cool bath or shower, or just splash yourself with cold water.

If you do need to go out, try to protect yourself from the sun by wearing cool, loose clothing, including a hat and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen to exposed skin.

Remember, you can still get sunburn even when the weather’s cloudy, so if you work outside, cover up and use sunscreen as part of your daily routine.

It’s equally important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids – water being the best option – and limit drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, as these can make you more dehydrated.

If you’re using public transport or spending long periods of time in the heat, be sure to carry some water with you and keep topping up. You should drink enough so that your urine is a pale, clear colour.

When it comes to hot weather, some people are more vulnerable than others, including those aged over 75, babies and young children, and people with existing health conditions.

Please remember to check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

And if you suspect someone is unwell, with signs of breathlessness, chest pain, intense thirst, weakness, dizziness or prolonged cramps, please call 111 for medical assistance – while ensuring to keep them cool and hydrated.

For more information on how to cope in hot weather, please visit www.nhs.uk/heatwave

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