Advice for care home managers and staff 2
What are the risks? The effects of heat on health 3
Further information 5
2 Supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave – Advice for care home managers and staff
Advice for care home managers and staff
Severe heat is dangerous to everyone, ESPECIALLY OLDER and DISABLED PEOPLE, AND THOSE LIVING IN CARE HOMES. During a heatwave, when temperatures remain abnormally high for longer than a couple of days, it can prove fatal. In one hot ten day period in southeast England in August 2003, there were nearly 2,000 extra deaths. The biggest increase in risk of death was among those in care homes. The latest UK Government risk assessment on climate change suggests summers are going to get hotter in the future.
This factsheet has been updated with the latest information from the World Health Organisations’ EuroHEAT project. The purpose of this document is to reduce the health risks by advising people what to do in the event of a heatwave, before it happens.
You should be reading this if you work in or manage a care home, where people are especially at risk during a heatwave. You are strongly urged to make the preparations in this factsheet before a heatwave is forecast. The effects of heat occur rapidly, and to be effective preparatory action has to be taken before the beginning of June. Supporting vulnerable people before and during a heatwave – Advice for care home managers and staff 3
What are the risks? The effects of heat on health The body normally cools itself using four mechanisms:
• radiation in the form of infrared rays;
• convection via water or air crossing the skin;
• conduction by a cooler object being in contact with the skin; and
• evaporation of sweat.
When the ambient temperature is higher than skin temperature, the only effective heat-loss mechanism is sweating. Therefore, any factor that reduces the effectiveness of