First aid experts in Herts sound the alert: Watch out for high noon health perils in the heatwave

Take care in the heatwave

Take care in the heatwave - Credit: Archant

With sky-high temperatures predicted this week, health agencies have been quick to issue advice on what to do to protect yourself from possible problems.

The experts at first aid charity St John Ambulance have issued a comprehensive list of tips covering common issues like dehydration, sunburn,

heatstroke, asthma attacks and blisters.

The organisation’s regional training and community projects manager Gemma Martin said: “We really advise people to be vigilant in looking out for not only members of their families but also the vulnerable in their communities.

“Be aware of those early signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, treat as effectively as you can by getting them into a cool, shaded area and start getting them rehydrated as quickly as you can.


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‘However, if you are in doubt or the person you are treating does not improve, don’t be afraid to call the NHS non-emergency helpline on 111, or 999/112 for advice in more extreme cases.’

TREATING DEHYDRATION

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Help the person to sit down and give them plenty of water to drink.

Giving them an oral rehydration solution to drink will help replace salt and other minerals which they’ve lost – you can buy this in sachets from any pharmacy.

If they have any painful cramps, encourage them to rest, help them stretch and massage their muscles that hurt.

Keep checking how they’re feeling – if they still feel unwell once they’re rehydrated then encourage them to see a doctor straight away.

TREATING SUNBURN

First, cover their skin with lightweight clothing and move them out of the sun and into the shade, or indoors if possible.

Encourage them to keep taking sips of cold water.

Cool the skin by sponging it gently with cool water, or by soaking the sore skin in a cold bath or shower for no more than ten minutes. Repeat this if it helps ease soreness.

If the burn doesn’t blister, then it is mild. Apply calamine lotion or after-sun lotion to help soothe the skin.

If the burn blisters or there is other skin damage, then it is severe and they’ll need to see a doctor.

Also watch out for and treat symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which can be life threatening.

TREATING HEATSTROKE

Quickly move them to a cool place and remove their outer clothing but ensure you maintain their dignity.

Then call 999/112 for an ambulance.

Wrap them in a cold wet sheet and keep pouring cold water over it until their temperature falls to at least 38°C (or 100.4°F). Measure this with a thermometer under their tongue or under their armpit.

If you can’t find a sheet, fan them or sponge them down with cold water to keep them cool.

Once their temperature seems to have gone back to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry sheet.

While waiting for help to arrive, keep checking their temperature, as well as their breathing, pulse and level of response.

If they start getting hot again, repeat the cooling process to lower their temperature.

If they lose consciousness at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat someone who’s become unconscious.

TREATING ASTHMA ATTACKS

First, reassure them and ask them to breathe slowly and deeply which will help them control their breathing.

Then help them use their reliever inhaler straight away. This should relieve the attack.

Next, sit them down in a comfortable position.

If it doesn’t get better within a few minutes, it may be a severe attack. Get them to take one or two puffs of their inhaler every two minutes, until they’ve had 10 puffs.

If the attack is severe and they are getting worse or becoming exhausted, or if this is their first attack, then call 999/112 for an ambulance.

Help them to keep using their inhaler if they need to. Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.

If they lose consciousness at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat someone who’s become unconscious.

TREATING BLISTERS

If someone has a blister, don’t burst it as this can increase the risk of infection.

Wash the skin around the blister with clean water.

Gently pat the skin dry with a sterile gauze pad or a clean, non-fluffy material.

If the blister was caused by something rubbing against the skin, cover it with a plaster – ideally a special blister plaster, as these have a cushioned pad that gives extra protection.

More first aid advice for heat-related illnesses can be found here

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