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Olympic Torch arrival prompts timely advice to keep safe in the sun

With thousands of people expected to greet the arrival of the Olympic Torch in the county tomorrow and the current spell of hot weather, health professionals are urging people to stay safe in the sun.

Herefordshire’s acting director of public health, Sarah Aitken, is urging residents to make sure they keep themselves cool and hydrated by avoiding heat and drinking plenty of water - particularly if they’re lining the streets tomorrow to welcome the Olympic Torch.

Young children, elderly people and people with long term conditions such as diabetes are particularly susceptible to heat and at a higher risk of developing dehydration.

“Our advice is to wear loose, cool clothes and a hat if you go out. If you are in an “at risk” group, our advice is to try and avoid going out between 11am and 3pm, the hottest part of the day, and stay indoors,” said Sarah.

“We also advise that people drink a minimum of six to eight glasses of fluid a day. In addition to water, people can drink semi-skimmed milk, diluted fruit juice and diluted squash,” she added.

However, she warned that alcoholic drinks and products containing caffeine, such as coffee and tea, can have a dehydrating effect on the body, should be avoided along with sugary and fizzy drinks which can produce other adverse health effects.

Symptoms of dehydration range from increased thirst, dry mouth, weakness, passing small amounts of urine less than three or four times a day, dizziness and palpitations to irritability, confusion, sluggishness, low level of consciousness, cool hands and feet, fainting and fits.

“This advice doesn’t just apply during the time the Olympic Torch passes through the county, but during any hot weather we experience throughout the summer,” added Sarah.

“Dehydration can make you feel very poorly and in the most extreme situations can cause death, yet it is easily avoidable.

“This is why we are urging people to make sure they are avoiding heat and drinking more water and less caffeine and alcohol as the summer season kicks in.

“By all means, go out and enjoy the visit of the Olympic Torch and enjoy any sunny weather we have, but please take precautions to enjoy it in safety to avoid a trip to A&E.”