Be a good neighbour and look out for the vulnerable in our society

Tuesday 15th July 2013 – 7.40pm – Murray MacGregor.

With the current high temperatures set to continue for up to the next week, West Midlands Ambulance Service is calling on the public to show their neighbourly spirit and check that elderly relatives, friends and neighbours are ok.

Temperatures in many parts of the UK are higher than holiday destinations in Spain and the USA. With no let-up for the next few days there are increasing concerns that vulnerable people could be at an increased risk of illness.

WMAS Director of Nursing and Quality, Sandy Brown, said: “Whilst lots of people find this weather fantastic, there is a not insignificant number of people who are finding it really hard going at the moment.

“The main causes of illness during a prolonged hot period are respiratory; due to the poor air quality and heart disease. In an effort to keep cool, the body sends extra blood to the skin which puts an additional strain on the heart. Dehydration is another common problem if people are outside for too long and / or don’t drink enough fluids. All three can prove fatal.

“It is really important that we look out for each other at the moment and make sure that we help our friends, loved ones and neighbours who may be having a tough time.”

The at-risk groups are:
· People, especially women, over 75 years old living on their own and who are socially isolated
· Those with chronic and / or severe illnesses including heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory or renal insufficiency, Parkinson’s or severe mental illness
· People on medications that potentially affect renal function, sweating, thermoregulation or electrolyte balance
· Patients who are unable to adapt behaviour to keep cool e.g. having Alzheimer’s, a disability, being bed bound, too much alcohol, babies and the very young
· Those at risk of environmental factors and overexposure such as the homeless, activities or jobs that are in hot places or outdoors and include high levels of physical exertion.

Please follow these simple tips and help those who are suffering cope with the continued high temperatures:
· Keep curtains on windows exposed to the sun closed while the temperature outside is higher than it is inside
· Once the temperature outside has dropped lower than it is inside, open the windows. This may require late night visiting and such advice needs to be balanced by any possible security concerns
· Water external and internal plants, and spray the ground outside windows with water (avoid creating slip hazards) to help cool the air
· Advise the person to stay out of the sun, especially between the hours of 11.00am and 3.00pm
· Stay in the shade and wear a hat, sunscreen, thin scarves and light clothing if going outside
· Reduce the level of physical exertion
· Take regular cool showers or baths, or at least an overall body wash
· Advise them to wear light, loose cotton clothes to absorb sweat and prevent skin irritation
· Splash cool water on their face and the back of their neck; a damp cloth on the back of the neck helps temperature regulation
· Eat cold food, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
· Drink regularly, preferably water or fruit juice, but avoid alcohol and caffeine (tea, coffee, colas)
· Monitor the daily fluid intake, particularly if they have several carers or are not always able to drink unaided



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