There are many health risks associated with hot weather that employees must look out for during their home visits. Those most at risk are older people, mainly those over the age of 75, those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory problems or diabetes, or those with mobility problems as they are unable to help themselves to keep cool. Staff can help people at home to keep cool by following the 5 tips below.
Tip 1: Keep the Person’s Home Cool
- Keep the windows closed during the day to keep the heat out. If it is safe to do so, open the windows at night when it is cooler outside.
- Shut the curtains, particularly if the sun is shining on the windows.
- Suggest the service user buys a fan, although they need to think about how to switch it on and off, and prevent it from being a trip hazard when they are not visiting. A timer switch might help.
- Turn off electric items when not in use, such as lights, which will increase the heat in the room.
- Put a bowl of cold water in the room – this will help to cool the room as it evaporates.
Tip 2: Wearing Cooling Clothes and Footwear
- Help the person to choose and dress in light or loose fitting clothes (cotton clothes are ideal).
- Sandals are more cooling than shoes, so advise service users to wear these instead if it is safe to do so.
- Wear socks with shoes as these will absorb any sweat and women should avoid wearing tights or stockings.
- Advise the service users to avoid wearing make-up as this can impede sweating, which will make them feel hotter.
Tip 3: Consume Cool Food and Drink
- Advise the person to drink lots of fluid even if they don’t feel thirsty. Leave plenty of cool drinks for them within easy reach.
- Cool drinks, such as water and fruit juices are better than hot drinks. Add ice to these if you are leaving these out to keep them cooler for longer.
- Avoid alcohol and the caffeine in tea and coffee as these can increase dehydration.
- Meat and protein-heavy food such as cheese can raise the body temperature as it metabolises, so eating fewer of these types of foods in hot weather can help keep the person cool.
- Avoid cooking if possible, as this will increase the heat in the home. Offer cold foods instead, such as cold soups, raw fruit and vegetables, salads, cold ice or noodle dishes, quiches and sandwiches.
Tip 4: Keep the Person Cool
- Keep any activities to a minimum during hot weather.
- If service user has long hair, tie this back to keep it off their face and neck.
- If they feel hot, place a damp towel around their neck to cool them down.
- Put cold water into a spray bottle so that the service user can spray it over them to help them to keep cool when carer is not there.
- Help the person to have a cool shower or bath if they are suffering from the heat.
Tip 5: Take Precautions from the Heat when Outside
- The service user should stay indoors from 11am – 3pm, if possible, as this is the hottest part of the day.
- They should wear a brimmed hat if they are going out during hot weather, to keep their neck cool and the sun out of their eyes.
- Take regular breaks out of the sun, such as in public buildings or under parasols or gazebos that provide shade.
- Going out during hot weather, make sure service user takes water and their medications with them.
- The person should wear sunglasses and sun cream if they are going out in sunny weather to protect their eyesight and skin from the adverse effects of the sun.