Heat Health Watch Whilst most people will be looking forward to warmer weather over the summer, extreme heat can be dangerous and has the potential to affect health. More information on the Welsh Assembly Government’s Heatwave Plan for Wales 2009 The current risk of a severe heatwave in Wales is relatively low, however during relatively mild heat waves, death rates are significantly raised in this country. Weather Warnings The Met Office operates the National Severe Weather Warning Service. The service warns the community through the provision of warnings of severe or hazardous weather. These warnings are received by the Civil Contingencies Team and disseminated to all Service areas by e-mail. The Heat-Health Watch system provided by the Met. Office operates in England and Wales from 1 June to 15 September each year. The Heat-Health Watch system comprises four levels (1,2,3,4) of response based upon threshold maximum day-time and minimum night-time temperatures. These thresholds vary by region. The threshold temperature for Wales is 30°C by day and 15°C overnight. Heatwave threshold values: Region Heat-Health Watch regions: Threshold temperature (°C) Day max Night min North East England 28 15 North West England 30 15 Yorkshire and the Humber 29 15 East Midlands 30 15 West Midlands 30 15 East of England 30 15 South East England 31 16 London 32 18 South West England 30 15 Wales 30 15 These temperatures could have significant effect on health if reached on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night. What do the different levels mean? Level 1 - Summer preparedness and long-term planning. This is the minimum state of vigilance during the summer. During this time social and healthcare services will ensure that all awareness and background preparedness work is ongoing. The majority of the time the risk of a heatwave will be less than 50%. However, when the risk exceeds 50%, this will be indicated by 'Level 1 – Summer preparedness – Increased risk'. Advice for level 1: If you are worried about what to do, either for yourself or somebody you know who you think might be at risk, contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk. Level 2 - Alert and readiness — This is triggered as soon as the risk is 80% or above for threshold temperatures being reached, in one or more regions, on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night. This is an important stage for social and healthcare services who will be working to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave. Advice for level 2: A Heatwave can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases. Advice on how to reduce the risk, either for yourself or somebody you know, can be obtained from NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk, or from your local pharmacist. Level 3 - Heatwave action — This is triggered as soon as the Met Office confirms threshold temperatures will be reached in one or more regions. This stage requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at hig h-risk groups. Level 4 - Emergency — This is reached when a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in h igh-risk groups. Advice for level 3 or 4: Stay out of the sun. Keep your home as cool as possible — shutting windows during the day may help. Open them when it is cooler at night. Keep drinking fluids. If there is anyone you know who might be at speci al risk, for example an older person living on their own, make sure they know what to do. Advice on how to reduce the risk, either for yourself or somebody you know, can be obtained from NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk,or from your local pharmacist. Who Is At Most Risk: Older people, especially those over 75 and living either on their own or in a care home. People with chronic illness Babies & small children Health Risks In a severe heatwave you may suffer from heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Both of which require urgent treatment. Visit the NHS Direct website for more information and the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke What you and your family/carer can do: Check that windows can be opened to ventilate rooms, especially at night. Shade windows during the day by drawing curtains or blinds especially if they receive direct sunlight. Check you are in the coolest room possible. Use an electric fan to circulate the air. Make sure you have access to cool non-alcoholic drinks, and that you drink regularly. Spray cool water on yourself or have a flannel to cool you down. Plan cold menus and include foods with a high water content such as fruit and salads. Wear loose cotton clothing and wear a sun hat if you go outdoors. Looking after yourself and others during a heatwave: Keep out of the heat by avoiding the hottest part of the day (11AM -3PM). Keep strenuous outdoor activities such as sport, DIY, to cooler parts of the day. If you go out try to stay in shaded areas, wear a sun hat, light loose clothes, apply sunscreen, and remember to take plenty of water with you. Try to stay cool by staying inside in the coolest part of the building. Close curtains in rooms that get a lot of sun. Close windows during the day and open them at night when its cooler outside. Take cool showers or baths, and splash yourself several times a day with cold water. Drink regularly, even if you don't feel particularly thirsty, a voiding alcohol, tea and coffee. Seek advice if you have any concerns Contact your doctor, a pharmacist or NHS Direct (0845 4647) if you're worried about your health during a heatwave, especially if you are taking medication, or have any unusual symptoms.