Heat Advice

There is a week of predicted high temperatures in the UK. The recent mostly high temperatures have resulted in us being exceptionally busy over the last few days – 5,200+ calls per day.

Please follow the advice given and try to keep cool.

Heat exhaustion (AKA heat prostration and heat collapse). This is the most common heat-related injury, and its basic mechanism is the same as heat cramps. The basic causes are heat exposure, stress, and fatigue. (It doesn’t have to be particularly hot before heat exhaustion is a possibility — wearing multiple layers of clothing that limit the effectiveness of sweating will do the job just fine. So, if you’re out hiking, take off layers; when you stop to rest, put on layers.)

The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Dizziness, weakness, fainting, nausea, and headache.
  • Onset while working in a high heat/high humidity/poor ventilation environment and sweating heavily. Infants, the elderly, and the unacclimatized may experience onset at rest.
  • Cold, clammy, skin; ashen pallor.
  • Dry tongue; thirst.
  • Vital signs within normal limits, although the pulse may be rapid and the diastolic blood pressure (that’s the bottom number; the pressure when the heart isn’t contracting) may be low.
  • Normal or slightly elevated body temperature.

What to do about all this: Take off any excessive layers of clothing, particularly around the head and neck. Get out of the hot environment (say, into the back of a nice air-conditioned ambulance). Drink a liter or so of water (slowly, so nausea doesn’t develop). Loosen restrictive clothing, lie down with your feet up, and use a fan for cooling.


I suggest that you go and read the whole article from the excellent Making Light then spend a few hours going through the archives. Although good luck trying to find an ambulance that has working air conditioning – I spent a long hot day in an LDV ambulance with the windows wound down gradually going deaf from the sirens. In a contest between hearing loss and headstroke, I guess I picked hearing loss*. Air-con seldom works in the newer ambulances either, and by the time it gets fixed there is normally snow on the ground…

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*All of which makes me laugh at the people who cower when we go past on sirens, remember folks – I'm sitting under the bloody things all day and if the air-con doesn't work I'll have the window wound down working on my 'trucker's tan'.

16 thoughts on “Heat Advice”

  1. it's 8.00 a.m. & 30C here. summer's here! so am roasting supper early (425F) with the ac on, shades drawn. no rasting during the heat of the day, or laundry –wait until 5-6 p.m. earliest! making sure the toddler grandchildren are taking fluids, etc. yeah–know i'm a babyre: the heat.

  2. Stay indoors with doors & window open, curtains/shutters closed. If you have to go out, wear a hat and avoid being outside 13-16h. But then again, it's been 37 today.

  3. Hospitals are not much cooler, unless you are working with special equipment. I hope I have to help fix the IT servers when it gets too warm!

  4. I was thinking about this on the tube today, people wearing their jackets and stuff. Woman looking really ill fanning herself but not thinking of taking off her cardigan. Why do people do that? I'd love to know the psychology.

  5. What's the current advice on salt in hot weather? I know it's currently seen as the cause of all ills but I can get distinctly wobbly if I'm sweating a lot and don't top up with a little extra in hot weather.

  6. I don't know if there is offical advice, but my friend who lives in Goa puts a sachet of diarohea salts in a litre bottle of water and sips that all day. No idea if that's healthy or not though. Doctors would probably just say to eat regularly and get your salts from there.I asked my Australian friend what they do, and after she finished laughing at us for getting in a tizz about 32 degrees, she said they don't do anything about salt, they just sit indoors and complain. 😀

  7. This is why I'm glad the ambulance I normally work on has working air con. Especially as I sit in the back all day and don't have windows to wind down.

  8. my whinge is the schools,one of my sons in classrooms has glass roofs and no air con, its like sitting in a greenhouse!.

    The 6 weeks holiday was about kids not being at school during the hottest days of summer, but now it seems that summer has moved and all the hottest days are the few weeks before the holiday I wished they would be more flexible and say have this week off but come back a week early or something

  9. I'm an Aussie living in Scotland and find the warnings of “heatwave” conditions hilarious.When you've lived and worked outdoors in places where the temperature hovers around 38C in the shade (and does go higher), then edging over 30 is nothing to worry about. And none of my cars or houses had air-con, nor did those of most of the elderly people I knew.

    My OH feels the same. She's a Scot, but has lived in Egypt and knows what a real heatwave is like.

    Mind you, there's a similar amount of hysteria in winter when temperatures dip a little below freezing.

    People elsewhere in the world cope with temperatures well over 30C and well below -5C, but in the UK it's “shock, horror, we're about to die” time.

  10. I'm moving to Aberdeen in 6 weeks. Surely the Scottish definition of “heatwave” is “wearing a lighter jacket”?I did also like how the forecast is for a heatwave across the UK “except North East Scotland”. Cos, yeah, isn't it always? 🙂

  11. Nearly – the definition of “heatwave” north of the border is being able to ditch the thermal underwear. But only for a day or two.

  12. 30+ is fine so long as you've adapted to it which takes about a fortnight if you're healthy. Same goes for sub-zero. Here in the UK we rarely get a stretch of *any* sort of weather that long so we're constantly battling one thing or another.Retreating to strongly air-con'd offices (<20) is actually counter-productive - you never adapt.

  13. Summer up here usually lasts five or six days. :DBut I'm afraid your definition of “heatwave” and suitable clothing is more than a little askew. Take our local school bus driver. His bus pulled up in mid-February and he was wearing shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, socks and sandals. I said isn't it a bit cold for that? He gave me a puzzled look and said “but the temperature's up a bit today”. Yes, the temperature had risen to 1C.

    I dread to think what he'll be wearing today when it's already hitting a heady 18C at 8.30am…

  14. i thankfully work in a supermarket. So im always around the fridges so cool! even better is being able to be backstage in the walk in fridge where all food is kept when delivered.in fact its the only place you'll find staff wearing a jacket.

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