10 Heatwave Safety Tips For Older People

Gwen & CAREGiver SorayaWith temperatures predicted to soar to 35 degrees today, making the UK hotter than Miami, our Eastbourne and Hailsham office has helped to spread a heatwave safety message for older people.

Appearing on ITV national news last night, Eastbourne and Hailsham owner Soraya Cottrell was filmed alongside our 95-year-old home care client, retired nurse Gwen Storey.

Grandmother-of-three Gwen spoke to ITN reporter Rebecca Barry about the advice she had been given by Home Instead to keep healthy in her home during the heatwave - to stay out of the sun, wear lighter clothing and keep hydrated with clear fluids.

With 8,000 home care clients across the UK, Home Instead has actioned its Heatwave Alert plan to assure the safety of its elderly clients, following the MET office’s level 2 health alert.

The action plan involves alerting all  CAREGivers throughout its 165 UK wide offices to the dangers that the heatwave can present for older people.

They will be looking for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke as older people’s bodies are often unable to adjust to sudden changes in temperature.

Home Instead’s clients are being advised to ensure they take in plenty of fluids and eat normally during the hot weather too.

10 tips for older people to stay safe in their home or outside during the heatwave:

  1. Avoid the hottest times of the day (usually this is between 11am – 3pm but it can vary. Today weather forecasts predict that the temperature will be at its peak at 3pm – 5pm) If you do need to venture out make sure you aren’t outside for long periods of time and find shady spots when you can.
  2. Keep hydrated – even if you’re not thirsty it’s important to drink plenty of water or fruit juice to replace fluids lost during sweating. Avoid caffeine or alcohol which increase dehydration.
  3. Pick the perfect spot – seek out the coolest areas of your home during warmer weather. Keep curtains and blinds closed to prevent sun heating up rooms, especially your bedroom.
  4. Think lightweight – choose clothing which is loose, lightweight, light coloured and breathable, such as a white linen or cotton shirt.
  5. Cool down – take cool showers and baths when possible. If you’re out and about, use a cotton hankie soaked in cool water and place it on the back of your neck and on your wrists and inner elbows .
  6. Cover up – in addition to wearing cooler clothing it’s also important to remember a hat. No matter whether it’s a cotton baseball cap or a straw boater, headwear will help to keep your face in the shade and the sun from beating down on the top of your head.
  7. Only if it is safe, and the temperature is predicted to reduce to a comfortable level, leave windows open during the night.
  8. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items.
  9. Beware of mirrors, crystals or reflective items that are placed in direct sunlight. These can cause serious house fires if they reflect rays onto items which can catch fire.
  10. A person’s ability to cope with extreme temperatures can be affected by the medication they take. Medication can affect blood pressure and respiration, and the body has to work even harder to keep cool. There is also an increased risk of falls. Avoid unnecessary exertion or have someone visit to help with any physical tasks.

Speaking about the heat risk for older people, Home Instead Chief Executive, Trevor Brocklebank, said: “Older people’s bodies react differently as we age,and are more prone to heat stress than younger people.

“One of the ways we can really help is by running through these 10 tips with our clients as we visit them during the next few days. Drinking plenty and remaining indoors during the hottest part of the days will keep older people safe and healthy during the searing temperatures.”

A group of Home Instead CAREGivers talking
Family welcoming a Home Instead care manager into their home