Heatwave Update from London Resilience: August 4 2020
Key public health messages on heat and COVID-19
Vulnerable people are potentially at greater risk this summer due to overlapping risks across COVID-19 and heat (for example, older age heart and lung conditions), social isolation due to fear of the virus. As many homes are prone to overheating, others may be more at risk as they stay at home because they are shielding, strongly advised to stay at home because they are ‘clinically vulnerable’ or are self-isolating.
Stay out of the heat:
· keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
· if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf
· avoid extreme physical exertion
· wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes
Check in on others
Check on older people or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during hot weather. You will need to do things differently this year due to COVID-19 restrictions: keep in touch remotely over the phone or using video technology, if this is not possible and you need to provide direct care to someone at risk from the hot weather, follow the guidance on providing care for others.
- Stay hydrated- drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Keeping hydrated will be especially important for people who are unwell with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and managing their symptoms at home
- If you need to undertake essential travel, ensure you take water with you
- Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day – for example, in the early morning or evening
Keeping the home cool
- Keep your environment cool: keeping your living space cool is especially important for those who need to stay at home this summer.
- Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight and keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day. External shutters or shades are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat
- Open windows at night if it feels cooler outside, although be aware of security issues – especially in ground floor rooms.
- Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun
- Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat
- Go indoors or outdoors during hot periods, whichever feels cooler. If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately – keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines. Remember, if you are required to stay at home (e.g. because you have COVID-19 infection or have been advised to self-isolate as a contact) then you should not use public spaces.
- Ensure that babies, children or older people are not left alone in stationary cars
Look out for the signs of heat-related harm
- If you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate, avoid excess alcohol.
- If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, for example after sustained exercise during very hot weather), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 mins and if not, they should seek medical help. Consult your doctor if you feel unusual symptoms, or if symptoms persist
- Call 999 if a person develops any signs of heatstroke as this is a medical emergency. Further information on heatstroke and heat-related illness are available here.
Enjoy the water safely
- During warm weather going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief
- Remember that while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, you will need to follow any additional government guidance to use public spaces safely
- Take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into the water to cool down
The Met Office will continue to monitor and forecast temperatures in each area, including the likely duration of the period of the heatwave, the likely temperatures to be expected.
New resources and a slide pack outlining the risks of COVID-19 and hot weather have been published on the Heatwave Plan for England collection page. These include:
- Beat the Heat: Coping with heat and COVID-19 (poster)
- Beat the Heat: Coping with heat and COVID-19
- Beat the Heat: Keep residents safe and well during COVID-19 (poster with a checklist on reverse, for care homes)
- Hot weather and COVID-19 (Slide set): “The health impacts of hot weather and the Heatwave Plan for England” training slide set designed for those across the health and social care system and in the voluntary sector with a role in planning for, or responding to, a heatwave event in England.
An off-the-shelf hot weather and health exercise developed for the health and social care emergency planning community is also available email@example.com. This exercise reviews heatwave planning, response and recovery within local health and social care and regional capabilities.
A significant proportion of excess summer deaths occur before the health heatwave alert is triggered, which emphasises the importance of long-term planning actions by local authorities and the health sector.
Further information on the Heat Health Watch and Heatwave can be found here; https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/heat-health/?tab=heatHealth&season=normal
The Heatwave Plan and summary of Heat Health Watch Actions for Level 3 with the plan and heat specific, COVID-19 tailored messages here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heatwave-plan-for-england
London Resilience Officer | LONDON RESILIENCE
The London Resilience Group supports the work of the London Resilience Partnership in preparing for, and responding to emergencies. We are hosted by the London Fire Brigade.