How to protect yourself during a heatwave
In the current health situation, the recommendations for protecting yourself from hot weather continue to apply and the ventilation of buildings is of vital importance.
As such, with regard to shared air conditioning and ventilation in premises which are open to the public, the managers of such premises must ensure that the measures put in place by the suppliers they use to install and maintain air conditioning and ventilation systems comply with the recommendations in this area* (see attached guidelines on air conditioning and ventilation).
It should also be noted that the use of fans in closed or semi-closed communal spaces is not recommended when there are several people in the space at the same time, even if they are wearing masks, if the airflow is directed towards the people.
What are the risks associated with heatwaves?
Very hot weather can have implications for your health.
The body reacts differently to very hot weather, depending on age.
In old age, the body perspires less and consequently has difficulty maintaining a temperature of 37°.
This can cause a rise in body temperature leading to a risk of heat stroke (hyperthermia, where the temperature rises above 40° and consciousness is impaired).
In children and adults, the body perspires a lot to maintain the correct temperature, but this leads to a loss of water, risking dehydration.
In addition, pregnancy, some diseases and taking certain medicines can, in very hot weather, be harmful to your health. These problems should be discussed with your usual doctor and your chemist before summer begins.
There are some simple steps you can take to help avoid problems, particularly at the beginning of a heatwave. It is important to prepare before you notice the first signs that your body is suffering, even if these signs seem insignificant.
What to do during a heatwave?
Protect yourself during the hottest hours of the day
- Keep away from direct sunlight
- Avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). If possible, try to take a siesta and relax in a cool place
- Avoid outdoor activities which require a lot of energy (gardening, DIY, etc.) and physical exertion
- Wear a hat and light, loose cotton clothing in pale colours
- Keep your home cool (close windows and shutters/blinds during the day, open them in the evening and at night if it is cooler)
- Hang a damp cloth in front of an open window
- If the indoor temperature is above 32°C, fans will not counteract the oppressive heat because they will move the air around without cooling it and speed up dehydration
- If possible, hose down your terrace and balcony in the evening, after sunset, particularly those which face west
- Check that your fridge is working correctly
Keep yourself cool
- Take regular cool (but not cold) showers or baths
- Spray yourself with a water spray or use a wet flannel to cool your body several times a day
- Spend 2–3 hours a day in a cool place
Drink and continue to eat
- Drink at least 1.5 litres of water every day
- Drink water regularly, do not wait until you are thirsty
- Help the elderly, children and babies to stay hydrated
- Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee, tea and fizzy or sugary drinks, as these can cause dehydration
- Make sure you eat enough; opt for cold food which contains a lot of water (fruit, raw vegetables, etc.)
- Keep away from sources of heat (e.g. ovens)
Seek advice from your doctor or chemist
- About any medicines you are taking, even those which are sold over the counter
- In the event of any unusual symptoms
Maintain social connections as far as possible
Ask for help
- At work, remain vigilant on behalf of yourself and your colleagues
- Regularly update your friends and family on how you are doing, and seek their help as soon as you need it
- If you feel unwell, or if someone else requires assistance, contact the Fire and Emergency Service by dialling 18 or 112.