Heatwave alert issued by Public Health

A Level 3 heatwave alert is again in force in Oxfordshire meaning the sustained hot weather poses a significant risk to the health of the young, sick and elderly.

Sustained high temperatures day and night have triggered the Public Health alert after the Met Office confirmed threshold temperatures that can have a significant effect on health have again been reached.

Yesterday the highest recorded temperature was 30.7°C at Benson. Today and tomorrow will be a little cooler with the Met Office predicting averages of 26°C in Oxford. However, the heat will again peak on Thursday when the mercury is set to rise to 30°C.

People are asked to look out for others, especially the elderly, babies and young children, the sick and those with breathing or heart conditions who are particularly susceptible to the heat.

Heat can kill. In August 2003, there were more than 2,000 excess deaths during one 10-day heatwave in the UK.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health team is offering the following advice to keep cool and safe:

  • Stay out of the heat and direct sunlight as much as possible
  • Avoid physical exertion
  • Drink plenty of cool fluids
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
  • Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
  • wear UV sunglasses, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen of at least SPF15, wear a hat and loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • if you have a health problem, keep medicines below 25°C or in the refrigerator
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals

Take immediate action to cool down if you have symptoms of heatstroke. These include feeling faint and dizzy, being short of breath, vomiting and increasing confusion.

Seek further advice from NHS 111, a doctor, or ring 999 if a person has collapsed.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Education, Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “While hot weather is enjoyable for most people and uncomfortable for some, sadly experience tells us that exposure to excessive heat can kill, with most cases of illness and death caused by heart and lung disease. Because we are not used to these very hot temperatures in England, local plans are in place to reduce the impact of harm from very hot weather.

Health and social care workers in the community, as well as hospitals and care homes been advised to regularly check on vulnerable patients, share sun safety messages, make sure room temperatures are set below 26°C, ensure patients have access to cold water and ice and that medicines are stored in a cool place.