How to protect your loved one during a heatwave
July’s heatwave saw temperatures hit 38 degrees C in London – a temperature that’s rarely ever reached in the UK. It’s no surprise that this heat comes as a shock to us, given our typically mild weather. Whilst many welcome the warmer weather as a change from our usual climate, it can be highly dangerous for high risk groups. These are characterised as very young children, the elderly (particularly those aged over 75), those with physical and serious mental disabilities and people who are taking medication that can affect temperature control.
Whether you’re looking after elderly people in a care home, or providing homecare to your loved one, it’s really important to remember to adapt their surroundings to weather changes. The elderly are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, since their body controlling mechanisms are not as well-functioning as they once were. There are, however, measures you can take to help reduce the impact of the hot weather.
Dehydration is a much more common issue in hot weather, and can cause dangerous health complications if not tended to quickly. If your loved one shows resistance to drinking water, try incorporating it into their diet in other ways. Watermelon, ice lollies and jelly are particularly high in water content, and can be successful alternatives to a plain glass of water.
It’s incredibly important to keep your loved one hydrated during a heatwave to prevent symptoms of heat exhaustion. If you notice your loved one displaying any of the following signs, immediate action needs to be taken to restore hydration levels:
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick
- Excessive sweating
- Cramps in arms, legs and stomach
- Fast breathing/fast pulse
To keep track of your loved one’s water intake, it’s a good idea to record the times that you’ve offered water/water-based snacks, which ideally should be in periods of 20 minutes. Try also incorporating mocktails, smoothies, soup or iced tea into their daily diet.
Windows and room temperature
Make sure to regularly check room temperature throughout the day – particularly during the hottest period, which is typically between 11am-3pm. If the room is too hot, try using fans and placing bowls of iced water behind them, so that they project cold air.
It’s also important to ensure that windows are closed during the day time – particularly if the sun shines directly on them. This prevents additional hot air from circulating the room. Then, after the sun has set, re-open them to allow cooler air to flow in.
Encourage your loved one to wear loose fitting, cotton clothes, and if they’re available to you, place shades or reflective materials around the room to keep it as cool as possible.
At CHD Living, we’re always on high alert in the summer – particularly during heatwaves, ensuring that our people are cared for safely. If you’d like to find out more about the care we offer, click here.