People across Cannock Chase are being urged to look after each other in the hot weather, with temperatures forecast to possibly top 30 degrees centigrade this week.
The main health risks include dehydration and sunburn. Older people and infants are particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, while children are particularly at risk of sunburn.
Each year people are admitted to hospitals across Cannock Chase with symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea, severe headaches, and confusion, often due to not drinking enough fluid during warmer weather.
Dr Mo Huda, Chair of Cannock Chase CCG said: “While the young and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, everyone should take care and stay hydrated and avoid sunburn.
“People should be aware of the symptoms of dehydration and particularly take care of older people, especially if they are less mobile and struggle to get regular drinks for themselves.”
Signs of dehydration include:
- feeling thirsty and lightheaded
- a dry mouth
- passing urine less often than usual
It’s best to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of non-fizzy fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice.
Contact NHS 111 for advice straight away if you or anyone you care for has any of the following symptoms:
- extreme thirst
- feeling unusually tired (lethargic) or confused
- not passing urine for eight hours
- rapid heartbeat
- dizziness when you stand up that doesn't go away after a few seconds
They will then advise the best next action or may ask you to be seen by your GP. If at the evening they may ask for a review by the Out of Hours GP service.
Dr Huda added that to people going out in the sun should ensure that large areas of skin are covered to reduce sun burn or use a high factor sun protection lotion to reduce burning.
He said: “The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so it’s important to try and keep children in the shade during this time. Even if it’s cloudy or overcast they can still burn.
“Apply a sunscreen every couple of hours to help protect their skin, especially if they are in and out of water. Even waterproof sunscreen can wash off and the cooling effect of the water can mask the feeling of getting burned.
“Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their necks while they are playing. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen to delicate areas, such as shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and the tops of feet. These are the most common areas to get burned.”
A sunscreen with a protection factor [SPF] of 50 gives the best protection, along with protective clothing, such as a floppy hat with a wide brim to help shade their face and neck, and an oversized t-shirt with sleeves to protect their back and shoulders.
To treat minor sunburn it’s best to sponge sore skin with cool water then apply soothing aftersun or calamine lotion. Your local pharmacy can advise on over-the-counter treatment to help ease symptoms and reduce inflammation.
And don’t forget good quality sunglasses! These should meet British Standards (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the 'CE' mark.