With warm temperatures forecast for this bank holiday weekend,
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb),
is reminding people to be sensible and take appropriate measures to
stay safe in the sun.
The fine weather, which also coincides with the start of school
half term break, brings with it a likely increase in certain calls
for the ambulance service, across what is already expected to be a
busy bank holiday weekend for the service.
Calls relating to sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke typically
increase although many of these calls can be avoided if some simple
precautions are taken.
High temperatures can also seriously affect people with
long-term conditions such as heart conditions or high blood
pressure. SECAmb is urging these people to be equally cautious
during the hot weather.
SECAmb Head of Resilience & Specialist Operations Andy
Cashman said: “We know that many people will be out and about this
weekend and throughout the school half term looking to enjoy the
fine weather. We’d simply ask that they are sensible and cover up
and use sun cream, drink plenty of water and use their common
“We’d also urge people to remember that there are people whose
health can be badly affected by the hotter weather, such as people
with long-term conditions, and the very young or older people. If
people know of anyone who could be particularly vulnerable, then
we’d ask them to check they’re ok.”
“As with any bank holiday we’re expecting to be very busy so
we’d ask the public to remember that 999 should only be dialed in
the event of a serious emergency. People can also get health advice
from dialing NHS 111 or speaking to a pharmacist.”
SECAmb tips for staying safe and cool in the sun
• Stay in the shade or indoors. The sun is at its most
dangerous between 11am and 3pm. Find shade under umbrellas, trees
or canopies. It is worth remembering that the temperature is at
least a couple of degrees cooler if you are by water.
• Use sunscreen and cover up. If you can’t avoid being out in
the sun apply sunscreen (factor 15+) and wear a t-shirt, hat and
• Increase your fluid intake. The normal recommended daily
intake of fluid is 2.5 litres or 8 glasses per day. In extreme heat
experts recommend you drink more and include a range of different
• Keep your home cool. Keep windows closed while the room is
cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside
rises, and at night for ventilation.
• Look after the elderly. Older people are more prone to the
effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours you can
help simply by checking on them and reminding them to drink plenty
and often. Also help them to keep their house as cool as possible,
using a fan if necessary.
• Protect children. Keep a close eye on young children, who
need plenty of fluids. A good way to check if they are drinking
enough is that they are passing urine regularly and that it is not
too dark. You should check nappies regularly. Babies and the very
young must be kept out of the sun.
• Avoid excessive physical exertion. If you are taking
physical exercise you need to drink half a litre of fluid at least
half an hour beforehand and continue to replenish your fluids after
• Know the perils of outdoor eating. Warm summer weather is a
perfect breeding ground for bacteria so it is especially important
to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until you are ready to
eat them. When barbecuing always make sure you cook meat until it
is piping hot, none of it is pink and all juices run clear.
– Be sensible with alcohol. Hot weather speeds up the effects
of alcohol so extra care should be taken when drinking. Alcohol
will lead to dehydration so make sure that you alternate alcoholic
drinks with water or fruit juice.
• Keep cool at work. The office is often the coolest place to
be in a heat wave. Ask your boss for air-conditioning or fans and
open windows where possible. Keep windows shaded with blinds and if
possible move your working position out of direct sunlight. Have
plenty of breaks during the day to get cold drinks and cool
Remember, heat stroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly and
rapidly lead to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone is
suffering from heat stroke call 999 immediately.
While waiting for the ambulance you should follow the
instructions given to you by the ambulance call taker. The
following can also help someone suffering from heat stroke:
· If possible, move
the person somewhere cooler.
ventilation by opening windows or using a fan.
· Cool the patient
down as quickly as possibly by loosening their clothes, sprinkling
them with cold water or wrapping them in a damp sheet.
· If they are
conscious, give them water or fruit juice to drink.
· Do not give them
aspirin or paracetamol.
If you need medical advice or treatment you can also talk to a
pharmacist, call NHS 111, visit your GP surgery or Minor Injury
When to call 999:
If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following
you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
• heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain
You should also call for an ambulance if:
• you think the patient’s illness or injury is
• you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even
life-threatening on the way to the hospital
• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause
• the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance
service and its personnel