Dr Raquel Nunes, Senior Research Fellow at Warwick Medical School, discusses the problems with extreme weather advice and outlines improvements to public health guidance on how to stay cool during the heatwave that the UK is currently experiencing.
“Most advice given during heatwaves very much focuses on medical advice in relation to health which most people may feel is quite obvious and common sense. Such advice focuses on telling the general public what they already know such as: drink more water, stay out of the sun, wear light, loose and cool clothes, apply sunscreen, avoid strenuous physical activity, among others.
“But what is lacking in most cases is advice that focuses on high-risk or the most vulnerable people in society, usually people with pre-existing illnesses such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, the very young or very old, those working outdoors, those who are socially isolated and the homeless. What needs adopting is a social model of health addressing the wider determinants of health such as income, housing quality, social networks and healthy workplaces. This could include providing other types of advice that people may not be aware of such as identifying and going to cool public places within the community such as libraries and community centres, as well as promoting checks on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours either in person or via the telephone, and providing information via heat-health telephone helplines.”
Kim Ingram, Assistant Press Officer
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