Health precautions urged by councils to combat heatwave

Councils are urging residents to keep an eye on vulnerable or elderly family and friends and help save lives as the nation heads outside to bask in the sunshine. 


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Health precautions should be taken as Britain braces itself for a heatwave this week, urge councils.

With temperatures set to reach highs of 30 degrees Celsius by the end of the week, the Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, warns that the elderly and those suffering from heart and respiratory problems are most at risk.

It comes as the Met Office issued a heatwave level 2 warning for four regions in England.

Social workers, community wardens and maintenance staff are all going on high alert, identifying and looking out for those who might be struggling.

Councils are urging residents to keep an eye on vulnerable or elderly family and friends and help save lives as the nation heads outside to bask in the sunshine. 

Following the 2003 heatwave in which more than 2,000 people in England died due to the extreme temperatures, the country has developed an annual heatwave plan with local authorities, health professionals and the emergency services working together to help keep people safe.

Council staff will be making calls and extra visits to vulnerable people as required but local authorities are urging people to call them if they believe anyone needing help is being missed out.

Local authorities are involved in year-round preparations for exceptional weather conditions, making sure local areas are as able to cope with high temperatures as they are with freezing temperatures or flooding.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: "The hundreds of deaths caused by high temperatures each year are avoidable. Councils are determined to reduce the toll as much as possible, but they cannot do it alone. Local people can make a massive difference by helping us identify other residents who might need some advice or practical help.

"We know that effective action, taken early, can reduce the health impacts of exposure to excessive heat. Most of these are simple preventive measures which, to be effective, need to be planned in advance of a heatwave.

"No-one is immune to the power of the sun. Drinking plenty of water, keeping our homes cool, avoiding direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day and using sunscreen are sensible precautions we all need to remember. Looking around at how our older neighbours are coping as we walk our children to school or head to the beach for a day out takes no effort, but could be crucial in making sure they are also able to make the best of the summer."

Hot weather tips

  • Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • Drink plenty of water and take water with you, if you are travelling
  • 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 and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes

Notes 

  1. Supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave –  Advice for health and social care professionals
  2. Supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave – advice for care home managers and staff
  3. Met Office guide to heat levels
  4. Heatwave plan for England