5 tips to help vulnerable people during a heatwave

Published: 22/05/2019

The UK has been experiencing one of the hottest summers on record – and, though some areas have seen a respite this week with smatterings of rain, the forecast shows that we have more of the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing yet to come.  

The UK has been experiencing one of the hottest summers on record – and, though some areas have seen a respite this week with smatterings of rain, the forecast shows that we have more of the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing yet to come.

With the hot weather expected to continue throughout August and beyond, we've compiled a list of 5 tips to help vulnerable people during a heatwave.

Keep in contact
The most important thing you should be doing is checking in with elderly or vulnerable friends, family and neighbours. Be sure to pop over or call and check whether they are coping, and what you might be able to do to help. See if you can assist with housework, errands, shopping and so on – just taking some of the strain during the extreme heat.

Stay Hydrated
When it’s incredibly hot, people often don’t feel like eating larger meals, but it’s important to keep drinking enough. Hydration is vital, and it’s important to encourage vulnerable people to drink more than they might usually, even if they don’t want to eat a meal – and this might mean visiting to help them stock up on more drinks, positioning bottles or jugs of water close to hand for anyone who struggles to get up and about, and encouraging them to snack on smaller portions if large meals are too much to face.

Avoid the hottest times of day
While it’s tempting to stay in one place to avoid the heat, life means we need to get out and about and carry out errands, visit others, bring home shopping – the list of reasons we have to go outdoors is endless. But this doesn’t mean we have to do these things in the hottest heat of the day. Encourage those elderly or vulnerable people you’re keeping an eye on to do these things in the earlier morning or later evening, rather than in the middle of the day when the heat is at its peak. This will protect them from overheating – and particularly if you also encourage them to wear appropriate clothing and protection for the weather, like loose, light fabrics, hats and sunscreen.

Limit strenuous activities
Many vulnerable people rely on routine – which means that they might want to carry out strenuous tasks like heavy housework, gardening or shopping at specific times – but in extreme heat, these tasks can put health at risk. Support people to limit how much they do of these more strenuous activities, and help them achieve those tasks in other ways or at other times, when the temperature isn’t as high.

Prevention is better than cure
Recovering from heat-related illnesses or problems is much harder than preventing them would have been. The most important thing you can do is to help people avoid overheating or being sunburned. This means creating cool, shaded spaces – closing curtains or blinds in rooms that see the most sunlight, positioning fans around the room to cool the air and keep it circulating well, opening doors or windows to allow a breeze, and making sure that everyone is wearing appropriate cool, light clothing. Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat help if you have to be outdoors, and sticking to areas with plenty of shade rather than direct sunlight.

From all of us here at Bluebird Care Central Bedfordshire, we hope you have a wonderful summer – but remember to stay safe from the heat and keep hydrated!