Stay cool when it's hot

11th January, 2017
Morag Thompson

Sun Sense

There are some very basic ways to minimise the impact of a hot day on our bodies, and just being sensible is enough to ensure that most of us will get through summer with a good golden glow without any issues.

These include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Wearing sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses while outdoors and sticking to light, loose fitting clothing.
  • Avoiding the sun during the peak hours from 11am till 3pm.

Babies, the elderly, people who engage in intense activities or sports, and those with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes or who are already sick and dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhoea, are at an increased risk of experiencing heat related illness. When it is hot, it is especially important to keep the environment as cool as possible, to stick to shady areas when outside and to ensure that there is plenty of water to drink.

Heat Related Conditions

The more common heat related conditions include heat rash(prickly heat), water retention which can make us feel like the Oros man, and heat cramps caused by the loss of salt and minerals from sweating. These are usually nothing to be very concerned about and are easily cured by some rest and drinking loads of water and replacing lost electrolytes.

Other conditions caused by excessive heat are more serious though and understanding the symptoms of each will help you to deal with them effectively.

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms include dehydration, tiredness, nausea, headaches, muscle aches, weakness, a slow heartbeat, dizzinessand fainting. These symptoms occur after prolonged exposure to heat which results in dehydration and even a drop in blood pressure. If someone you know is experiencing these symptoms get them to lie down somewhere cool, remove unnecessary clothing, cool their skin with cold flannels and fans and get them to drink lots of fluids (not caffeinated or alcoholic drinks) to replace what they have lost from sweating.


Heatstroke can come on suddenly and occurs when your body can no longer regulate its temperature, putting immense strain on your kidneys, liver, lungs, heartand brain. It can be caused by sunstroke but is not limited to people who have been sun burned. It is a medical emergency and needs swift treatment. Symptoms include nausea with vomiting, headache, dizziness, hot and flushed skin, a rapid heartbeat, decreased sweating, shortness of breath, decreased urination – often with blood in the urine, confusion and convulsions. Treat in the same way as heat exhaustion, but get medical attention as it can be life-threatening.

Finally, remember that your pets can also get too hot. Keeping them cool and hydrated is as important for their health as it is for yours. Be sensible, be cool and have a healthy and happy summer.