Column: Herald Newspapers, 12th August 2016

West really is best, isn’t it? Especially when we’re enjoying great weather too. When we are fortunate enough to enjoy a “heatwave” though, we mustn’t forget to keep an eye out for those the heat can affect adversely. We all know to look out for our neighbours and loved ones during the winter months but hot weather can be just as challenging.

During spells of warm weather – and forecasters say there is some on the way, it’s not uncommon to see a significant rise in the number of people attending emergency units with cardiac and respiratory related conditions. That means there’s a corresponding rise in hospital admissions. There are also greater numbers of people in our county than usual over the summer period.

For children and babies, older people and those with long term health conditions, especially those with heart and breathing conditions, there are some simple steps to take to stay healthy. Stay out of direct sunlight between 11am and 3am when the sun is strongest. Always use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor. Loose, cool clothing and wearing a hat when outdoors can also help to prevent heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Drink plenty of water.

Last weekend, the RNLI reported a very busy weekend around our coast.  Volunteer RNLI crews do an amazing job protecting locals and visitors alike.  But they cannot provide a lifeguard service everywhere.  Sadly, lives were lost to the sea last weekend and assistance was provided to many people who found themselves in difficulty.  Coastal conditions can change quickly so be prepared for your visit – wear appropriate foot wear and clothing, check the sea and weather conditions for the place you’re visiting before you leave home and know the risks before you go – look up the RNLI website, for advice.