However old you are, you are likely to have memories of balmy summer days, and heathaze rippling across roads. Heatwaves are now such a common feature of the British summer that the Met Office has begun to give a new specific category of extreme heat weather warning, and they require special care and preparation to ensure you’re not putting your health – or the health of children or elderly relatives – in danger.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the key issues to make sure you’re informed and can be ready.
Dehydration is one of the great dangers of extremely hot weather. Getting dehydrated has symptoms with escalating seriousness: from simply feeling thirsty with a dry mouth, to headaches, to dizziness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, vomiting and even unconsciousness! It’s normally easy to rehydrate before this happens, but if you’ve decided to enjoy the warm weather at a beach on a walk and haven’t brought water with you, you might be in for a difficult time. Dehydration can escalate into heat exhaustion or even heat stroke!
If you’re worried about dehydration in you or family members, you should be aware there’s a simple test you can do to check: punch the skin on the back of your hand. If it spring back into position quickly, you’re likely well hydrated. If your skin is slack and slower to reform, then you may be on the road to dehydration and should take a drink!
When your body is trying to cool you down by sweating, you’re not just losing moisture. You’re also losing electrolytes: the soluble salts in your body’s fluid supplies (this is why sweat and tears taste salty!). They’re very important in your body, and a deficit of electrolytes can be serious. Try using a product like ORS Hydration Tablets or sachets from your pharmacy that will dissolve in water to replenish your electrolytes as well as rehydrating you.
If you’re outside – at the beach or in a park, it’s important to make sure you have access to shade. Whether you set up beneath a tree or bring an umbrella or tent with you, it’s important to provide some shelter from the most extreme heat of the day.
Taking Care of Pets
Pets are just as susceptible to the negative effects of extreme hot weather as humans, and may be less able to help themselves, so you’ll need to take precautions for them. Cool mats can be good for cats, dogs and rabbits, with different sizes and types available to suit your pet. You should also provide shade for them and put down more sources of water than usual so it’s easier for them to keep hydrated.
Some pets like to lick or eat ice cubes so try giving one to your pet to see how they react. They’re good for cats to play with, as cats lose heat through their paws so batting an ice cube around can help, and dogs might even chomp them into pieces for a cooling snack!