Beware lethal dangers of the heatwave

Take care in the sun
Take care in the sun

WIGAN health chiefs have warned vulnerable residents to stay safe as temperatures soar across the borough.

With temperatures rocketing this week to nearly 30 degrees, doctors and emergency services representatives have issued top tips to enjoy the weather responsibly.

Left untreated, heatstroke can lead to complications, such as brain damage and organ failure

Dr Sanjay Wahie

Local firefighters are urging people to avoid cooling off with a dip in a lake or reservoir, adding it could lead to deadly consequences, as well as asking people to take extra care when lighting barbecues.

And Dr Sanjay Wahie, medicines lead at NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) said people to be mindful of the dangers posed by the sun’s rays.

She said: “Most of us enjoy a sunny day but it’s easy to underestimate your time spent outdoors and not realise you’re getting burnt or suffering from heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.

“Children and older people can be especially at risk. With sunburn the first thing to do is to get out of direct sunlight as soon as possible. Cool skin by sponging it with cool water or by having a cool bath or shower – applying a cold compress to the affected area may also help. Drink plenty of fluids to bring temperature down.

“It will help to apply a water-based cream to keep skin cool and moist.”

Both GPs and advanced paramedic from The North West Ambulance Service Sam English, explained that heat exhaustion causes extreme tiredness as a result of a decrease in blood pressure and blood volume.

Someone with heat exhaustion will feel sick, faint and sweat heavily so they should go immediately to a cool place and drink plenty of water, remove excess clothing and they should start to feel better within half an hour.

Dr Wahie added: “Heatstroke is a more serious condition than heat exhaustion and occurs when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high.

“Groups more at risk of developing heat stroke are children under two; the very elderly, people with kidney, heart or circulation problems or diabetes.

“Signs of heatstroke include dry skin, vertigo, confusion, headache, thirst, nausea, rapid shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and muscle cramps.

“Suspected heatstroke should always be regarded as an emergency.

“While waiting for an ambulance you should immediately move the person to a cool area, open windows or use a fan, give them water to drink, but don’t give them medication.

“If possible shower skin with cool, but not cold, water; alternatively, cover their body with cool, damp towels.

“Left untreated, heatstroke can lead to complications, such as brain damage and organ failure.”

Mr English added: “Simple advice surrounds staying in the shade and keeping cool wherever possible, wearing sunscreen and a hat as well as keeping hydrated by taking regular cool drinks.”

More top tips to stay safe include: wearing sunscreen, loose clothing, look out for others such as the young or elderly, never leave babies, young children or animals in a parked vehicle and to keep cool at night by using lighter bedding and always remember to switch off any electric fans before falling asleep to prevent any electrical faults which could create a fire risk.

For urgent medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation call NHS 111 in the first instance.