The main risks posed by hot weather are:
- Dehydration from not drinking enough water
- Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing or long-term health conditions
- Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
In some cases these conditions can make people very unwell, and sometimes lead to admissions to hospital.
Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “While hot weather is enjoyable for most people, it can be uncomfortable for others. Sadly, experience tells us that exposure to excessive heat can make people seriously ill. We should all take sensible precautions to protect ourselves during warm periods to prevent heat-related health issues.”
Lily O’Connor, Director of Urgent Care for Oxfordshire, said: “Over the past few days, we have seen people coming to our busy Emergency Departments for heat-related issues. Taking a few simple steps can make a big difference to your health in hot weather.
“Please take care and keep an eye out for elderly or more vulnerable relatives and friends. People are often more comfortable at home than in hospital, and we want to avoid preventable trips to hospital wherever we can.
“It is important that people think about the activities they are carrying out – if they’re not essential, think about postponing to cooler times of day where possible.”
Dr Ed Capo-Bianco, GP in South Oxfordshire and Clinical Lead for Urgent Care In Oxfordshire, said: “While the good weather might be welcome to some, it can also come with significant health risks particularly for the elderly, the very young, and people with long term health conditions, like diabetes, COPD, or heart failure.
“It is really important for people of all ages to make sure that they stay well and safe by drinking lots more water than usual to stay well hydrated. It is also advisable to stay out of the direct sun between the hours of 11am and 3pm and avoiding any extreme exercise or exertion during these times. If you do start to feel unwell or poorly, then contact NHS 111 in the first instance.”
Paul Jefferies, Assistant Director of Operations at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which, if not treated quickly, can be very serious. We are asking people to follow NHS advice about changing your behaviour to cope better with the expected high temperatures, and therefore prevent avoidable 999 emergencies.
“We continue to prioritise our response to those patients with life-threatening and serious emergencies but, due to current levels of pressure we are seeing, there will be delays in responding to other patients with less urgent needs who are assessed as requiring an ambulance response.
“We are asking patients to help us at this time by seeking alternative treatment or advice via NHS 111 online or by calling 111, using local urgent care centres, or speaking to their GP or pharmacist. We are also asking people not to call 999 back to ask about an estimated time unless the patient’s condition has changed. This keeps the line free for someone who may need urgent assistance.”
If you need medical help that is not life-threatening, contact NHS 111 who will give you advice and point you to the best service for your needs.