What are the impacts?
A heatwave is when a temperature of 30 °C is reached on two consecutive days and a temperature of 15°C or above in the night between. Heatwaves can be especially dangerous for the very young, the very old or those with chronic diseases.
Too much heat or sun can result in heat exhaustion or more serious heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, high temperature, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and weakness. Heat stroke develops if heat exhaustion is left untreated. Additional symptoms include intense thirst, sleepiness, hot red skin, confusion, aggression, convulsions and loss of consciousness.
What is the scale of the problem?
Generally in Wales we do not suffer too many heatwaves. In 2006 we had two heatwaves in July and prior to that the last heatwave was in 2003. Some scientists believe that heat waves will increase as a result of climate change.
What is being done to manage the impact?
Advice on how to protect against the ill effects of too much heat or sun is available for the general public and healthcare staff.
Heatwave advice for health and social care staff is available from the Welsh Government website at: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/health/protection/environmental/publications/professionals1/?lang=en.
On the global scale there are international agreements to limit the use of natural resources and also limit emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to prevent further climate change.
What can you do?
There are lots of simple things you can do to look after yourself and others:
- Listen to your local weather forecast. That way you can prepare if a heatwave is expected
If there is exceptionally hot weather:
- Try to stay indoor, especially between midday and 3 o’clock
- Keep rooms shaded and cool by closing blinds and curtains and opening windows
- Try to avoid strenuous outdoor activities such as sport , DIY or gardening. If this isn’t possible, do it during the cooler parts of the day,
- Drink plenty of water, at least eight glasses a day. Avoid alcohol, tea and coffee as they can make dehydration worse.
- Taking a cool bath or shower, or splashing your face with cold water will help you cool down
- If you have concerns contact your GP or pharmacist
If you go outside:
- Use sunscreens or sun blocks to protect from sunburn
- Cover up with a t-shirt or other loose-fitting clothes
- Wear a hat to shade your head and sunglasses to protect your eyes
Be a good neighbour:
- Look out for vulnerable people especially those who live on their own, for example the elderly and check they are OK