We all look forward to getting out in the sun, but high temperatures can cause sunburn, heatstroke and, in extreme cases, fatalities among people who are particularly vulnerable, unless precautions are taken.
In one hot spell in August 2003 in England, deaths in those aged 75 and over rose by 60 per cent, with around 2000 extra deaths than would normally be expected.
“Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been over-exposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition," said Joe Mulligan, head of first aid education at the British Red Cross.
"Simple steps such as avoiding exposure to the hottest time of the day, drinking plenty of fluids and even simply wearing a hat on hot days can all make a real difference."
Simon Lewis, British Red Cross head of emergency planning and response, said: “Elderly people, young children and those who are poorly are most at risk. Checking on neighbours and elderly friends who may be less able to look after themselves is vitally important to ensure vulnerable people are coping.”
This condition is caused by an abnormal loss of salt and water from the body through excessive sweating. It usually develops gradually.
Signs and symptoms include cramp-like pains and/or headache, pale, moist skin, fast, weak pulse, slightly raised temperature.
What to do
Help the person to lie down in a cool place
Raise their legs to improve blood flow
Cool them with water or a fan
Give them plenty of water to drink or a non-fizzy drink to replace lost fluids
Call an ambulance
This potentially dangerous condition occurs when the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, due to illness or prolonged exposure to heat and humidity.
Signs and symptoms include restlessness, headache, dizzy feeling, flushed and very hot skin, rapid loss of consciousness, fast, strong pulse and raised body temperature.
What to do
Get the person to a cool place and lie them down and make them comfortable
Cool them with a cold wet sheet if available. If not, use water or a fan
Call an ambulance
When their temperature returns to normal replace the wet sheet with a dry one
Monitor their symptoms until help arrives
How to prepare for and survive a heat wave
Before a heat wave:
Make sure you have plenty of bottled water in case of drought or local problems with supply
Stock up on high-protection sun creams and plan ahead to minimise work and exercise outdoors during the hottest times of the day
During a heat wave
In the heat of the day, stay indoors as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning, stay on the lowest floor, where it will be cooler
Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by your doctor
Drink plenty of water regularly even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty
Remember, alcohol causes dehydration, so limit your intake
Dress in loose-fitting clothes and protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat
Avoid too much sunshine and use a sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher
Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day; try not to work alone when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks
Regularly check on family and friends who are vulnerable, such as elderly people, and never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles