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Health & Wellbeing

Local ambulance service urges people to take care as demand rises due to temperatures

With hotter temperatures set to make an appearance this week, South East Coast Ambulance Service, (SECAmb), is urging people to be sensible and take appropriate action to stay safe in the sun.

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Warmer weather is of course welcomed by many, but it often brings with it a likely increase in certain calls for the ambulance service.

Calls relating to dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn typically increase, and higher temperatures can also seriously affect people with long-term health conditions such heart conditions or high blood pressure. Older people and the very young are also at higher risk of being affected. SECAmb is urging these groups and anyone who looks after them to be equally cautious during hot weather.

SECAmb’s Executive Director of Operations, Joe Garcia said:

“I’m sure many people are pleased to see the arrival of some warmer weather and we of course want people to enjoy the sun. However, we also need people to be sensible and use their common sense. This means covering up and using sun screen as well as drinking plenty of water.

“Everyone can benefit from this simple advice but there are some groups whose health can be particularly affected by the hotter weather including the very young, older people and anyone with certain long-term health conditions. If people know of anyone who could be especially vulnerable, then we’d ask them to check they’re ok.

“We’d also urge people to remember that we have a finite amount of resources to respond to patients. We are asking the public for their support in remembering that 999 should only be dialed in the event of a serious emergency. Health advice is also available by dialing NHS 111 or by speaking to a pharmacist.

“Finally, I’d like to thank all our staff and volunteers who are working extremely hard to provide our patients with the care they need, whatever the weather.”

SECAmb tips for staying safe and cool in the sun

·         Stay in the shade or indoors. The sun is at its most dangerous between 11am and 3pm. Find shade under umbrellas, trees or canopies. It is worth remembering that the temperature is often a couple of degrees cooler if you are by water

·         Use sunscreen and cover up. If you can’t avoid being out in the sun apply a high factor sunscreen and wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses

·         Increase your fluid intake. The normal recommended daily intake of fluid is 2.5 litres or 8 glasses per day. In extreme heat experts recommend you drink more and include a range of different fluids

·         Keep your home cool. Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation

·         Look after the elderly. Older people are more prone to the effects of heat. If you have older relatives or neighbours, you can help simply by checking on them and reminding them to drink plenty and often. Also help them to keep their house as cool as possible, using a fan if necessary

·         Protect children. Keep a close eye on young children, who need plenty of fluids. A good way to check if they are drinking enough is that they are passing urine regularly and that it is not too dark. You should check nappies regularly. Babies and the very young must be kept out of the sun

·         Act safely around water and follow lifeguard advice. Avoid excessive physical exertion. If you are taking physical exercise you need to drink half a litre of fluid at least half an hour beforehand and continue to replenish your fluids during and after exercising

·         Be sensible with alcohol. Hot weather speeds up the effects of alcohol so extra care should be taken when drinking. Alcohol will lead to dehydration so make sure that you alternate alcoholic drinks with water or fruit juice

·         Know the perils of outdoor eating. Warm summer weather is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria so it is especially important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until you are ready to eat them. When barbecuing always make sure you cook meat until it is piping hot, none of it is pink and all juices run clear

·         Keep cool at work. The office is often the coolest place to be in a heat wave. Ask your boss for air-conditioning or fans and open windows where possible. Keep windows shaded with blinds and if possible move your working position out of direct sunlight. Have plenty of breaks during the day to get cold drinks and cool down

Remember, heat stroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly and rapidly lead to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke call 999 immediately.

While waiting for the ambulance you should listen carefully to the call handler and follow the instructions given to you. The following can also help someone suffering from heat stroke:

·         If possible, move the person somewhere cooler

·         Increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan

·         Cool the patient down as quickly as possible by loosening their clothes, sprinkling them with cold water or wrapping them in a damp sheet

·         If they are conscious, give them water or fruit juice to drink

·         Do not give them aspirin or paracetamol

If you need medical advice or treatment you can also talk to a pharmacist, call NHS 111, visit your GP surgery or Minor Injury Unit.

When to call 999:

If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:

·         heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)

·         sudden unexplained shortness of breath

·         heavy bleeding

·         unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)

·         traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if: 

·         you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening

·         you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital

·         the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel

Health & Wellbeing

Crawley residents encouraged to learn the symptoms of leukaemia this September

Members of the public in Crawley are being encouraged to learn the
symptoms of leukaemia during Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) which takes place throughout September.

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Leukaemia Care, a national blood cancer charity, is attempting to raise awareness of the disease, as well as its signs and symptoms, as part of their Spot Leukaemia campaign.

In 2015, 9,900 people were diagnosed with Leukaemia. That is 27 people each day.

Leukaemia is a form of blood cancer. Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in the UK today and is the third biggest cancer killer. 

Leukaemia can be hard to spot because the signs and symptoms are common to other unrelated illnesses.

The six most common symptoms experienced by all leukaemia patients prior to diagnosis are:

  • Fatigue
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Bone/Joint pain
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Sleeping problems
  • Shortness of breath

The campaign seeks to raise awareness of what leukaemia is, the symptoms to spot and who can be affected by leukaemia. The charity wants to equip people to spot the signs and symptoms of leukaemia and urge them to visit their GP if they have any concerns. Early diagnosis saves lives and improves outcomes.

Leukaemia Care is giving away free magnets, pens and symptoms cards to raise awareness of the types of leukaemia and to empower people to visit their GP if they feel worried. They are also encouraging members of the public to take a new free leukaemia awareness course where members of the public can earn a certificate on their knowledge of leukaemia. 

Symptoms cards as well as more information about the campaign and awareness course can be found at www.spotleukaemia.co.uk

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