But the hot weather also comes with health risks, which is why it’s so important to be aware of how to stay safe in the sun and high temperatures.
What can a heatwave do to your body?
According to the NHS, the main risks are:
When you fail to drink enough water to replenish the fluids lost through urination, sweating and breathing, you become dehydrated. Being dehydrated doesn’t just make you feel thirsty – it can also have a major impact on how your entire body functions.
Signs you are dehydrated include a dry mouth, dark urine, dry skin, decreased urination, muscle cramps, fatigue and headaches.
This can make symptoms worse for people who are already suffering with heart or breathing problems.
Signs you are overheating include tingling skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea and an increased heart rate.
3. Heat exhaustion
“Heat exhaustion is where you become very hot and start to lose water or salt from your body,”states a safety leaflet by Public Health England (PHE). “Common symptoms include weakness, feeling faint, headache, muscle cramps, feeling sick, heavy sweating and intense thirst.”
A more serious effect of hot weather can be heatstroke, where the body is no longer able to cool itself. In this case, the person's body temperature becomes dangerously high. Symptoms include confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness.
The hot weather is set to return to parts of the country over the next few days. Try to avoid spending extended periods in the sun. Also, be aware that vulnerable people are at increased risk of health issues. See our advice here: https://t.co/vW6tQ0n7tv pic.twitter.com/PGFUUwB7j4— NHS (@NHSuk) August 1, 2018
A safety leaflet by the PHE also reveals that chronic illnesses can get worse in hot weather. These include:
- Heart disease
Who is more at risk?
Some people are more at risk of suffering health problems during a heatwave, such as older people, especially those over the age of 75, babies and young children, and people with a serious chronic condition (see above).
How do our bodies physically react to heat?
Sweating and breathing are the two main ways our bodies physically cope with hot weather. However, in cases of severe dehydration our ability to sweat can stop. This is incredibly dangerous as the body's natural cooling mechanism is compromised.
Dehydration will also lead to dry skin. Moisturising and drinking lots of fluids are key to avoid this.
Furthermore, in hot weather, humans' blood vessels dilate and our heart pumps more blood to the skin to help heat escape from our body.
Mental abilities and concentration can decrease in the heat as the body and brain become dehydrated and exhausted.
Try to avoid the heat over the next few days. Stay out of the sun and try to not spend much time outside between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you're vulnerable to the effects of heat: https://t.co/Jq1vfkzd8g #ThursdayThoughts pic.twitter.com/XMOGUwzx74— NHS (@NHSuk) August 2, 2018
Top tips for keeping safe in the heat
1. The NHS recommends spending time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
2. Make sure you never burn.
3. Cover up with suitable clothing, such as light, loose-fitting cotton.
4. Wear a hat and sunglasses.
5. Use at least factor 15 sunscreen.
6. Drinks lots of water.
7. Look out for neighbours, family and friends who may be more at risk.
How do I know if someone needs help?
Seek help from a GP or contact NHS 111 if someone is showing symptoms of:
- Chest pain
- Intense thirst
- Cramps which get worse or don't go away
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