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Take care as temperatures soar

​GPs are reminding people to take care and look out for the wellbeing of vulnerable people as summer temperatures soar.

The Met Office has declared a Level 2 Heat-health alert, which is triggered when it forecasts a 60 percent or higher chance of temperatures being high enough on at least two consecutive days to have a significant effect on health.

Dr Ellie Rowe, a Torquay GP and commissioning lead for South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said people should try to stay out of the heat and keep themselves cool, look out for others and take precautions if they are elderly or have a health problem.

Dr Rowe added: “We are all looking forward to the nice weather, but it’s important that we remember to stay safe and not risk falling ill and missing out on having fun.

“Some of the danger signs to watch out for during hot weather include feeling faint and dizzy, shortness of breath and vomiting or increased confusion.

“I would recommend keeping out of the sun when it is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm, and making sure you wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes and a hat where possible.

“If you are likely to be out in the sun for a long period of time, it’s worth making sure you have plenty of cold drinks to hand and avoid drinking alcohol and too much caffeine, to avoid dehydrating.

“Even if you’re planning to stay at home you should try to make sure your living space is cool and this is especially important for young children and babies, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions.

“Keep an eye on your family and neighbours as well, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable.

“Making sure you use at least sun factor protection 15 sunscreen is also important. There are almost 250 cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, and 40 related deaths every year in Devon. The county has some of the highest rates of melanoma in the country.”

South Devon and Torbay Devon CCG, which is responsible for the vast majority of healthcare in the area, has issued the following advice if the expected hot weather continues:

  • Try to plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat.
  • If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am-3pm). If you have to go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light loose-fitting clothes, preferably cotton. If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you.
  • Take cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck.
  • Eat as you normally would. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.
  • Look after children and older people. They are much more prone to the effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours you can help simply by checking on them if possible every day, and reminding them to drink plenty and often. They should have a mixture of drinks including fruit juice and water. Help them to keep their house as cool as possible, drawing curtains during the day, ensuring ventilation at night or using a fan if necessary.

Further heatwave information is here, and information about sun protection is here.