Everyone needs to take care in hot weather but some people are at higher risk of heat illness, especially if they live alone or are socially isolated.
The following people are most at risk:
- People who are:
- over the age of 75
- infants and young children
- overweight or obese
- pregnant or breastfeeding
- not very mobile
- not drinking enough water
- living by themselves or homeless
- socially isolated
- working in a hot environment (for example labourers, gardeners, fire fighters)
- exercising vigorously in the heat
- People who have a chronic illness, for example*:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- cancer or kidney disease
- mental illness
- alcohol and other drug use
- People who have an acute illness such as:
- an infection with a fever
- gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and/or vomiting)
- People who take certain medications (please see a note on prescription medications).
* These are only examples; there are many more conditions that may be affected in hot weather. If you are unsure whether you are at risk, discuss it with your GP
A note on prescription medications
Many prescribed medications can make the risk of heat-related illness worse. Also, medications can become less effective or occasionally more toxic when stored in the heat. Most medications need to be stored below 25°C (discuss with a pharmacist if unsure about correct storage temperatures).
Everybody on regular medication should visit their GP to discuss how their medications could affect their health in the heat. For example, some medicines for blood pressure can decrease a person’s ability to sweat (which is the only way for the body to cool itself in the heat).
Examples of medications that can affect a person during hot weather are available on Information for Health Professionals. It is best to go through this list together with your GP.