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When you don't have a home, a heatwave can be dangerous. It's harder to shelter from the sun and find shade. However, there are lots of small ways you can help people experiencing homelessness during a heatwave.

If you feel safe to do so, stop and say hello. You could:
  • Offer someone a bottle of water - a frozen bottle is even better!
  • Offer someone an umbrella to protect them from the sun. Sun hats can also help protect from the sun and prevent heatstroke.
  • Offer a bottle of suncream.
  • Do you have spare sunglasses at home? Offer them to someone who needs them.

Tell them about Glass Door. One of our friendly caseworkers can offer advice and support at one of our partner day centres.

If you are concerned for someone's welfare, you can also alert Streetlink. In an emergency, call 999.

Read Homeless Link's guidance

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Heat exhaustion happens when your body is getting too hot and struggling to regulate or cope with the temperature.

It can affect anyone but people who are sleeping rough are particularly at risk because it's harder to find shade or somewhere cool to stay.

The symptoms are your body's way of warning you to cool down, fast.

An obvious sign is excessive sweating, as well as feeling very hot and unwell with it.

Other symptoms include:

  • a headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • a temperature of 38°C or above
  • being very thirsty

Heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke, which is an emergency. Get urgent medical help.

The signs to watch for and quickly act on:

  • feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • not sweating even while feeling too hot
  • a temperature of 40°C or above
  • fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • feeling confused
  • a fit (seizure)
  • loss of consciousness
  • not responsive

Older adults and young infants, as well as people with long-term health conditions, are particularly at risk.

The body's ability to regulate its temperature is not fully developed in the young and may be reduced by illness, medications or other factors in older adults. Being overweight or obese may also make it harder to cool down.

What to do

If someone has heat exhaustion:

  • get them to rest in a cool place - such as a room with air conditioning or somewhere in the shade
  • remove any unnecessary clothing, to expose as much of their skin as possible
  • cool their skin - use whatever you have available, a cool, wet sponge or flannel, spray water, cold packs around the neck and armpits, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet
  • fan their skin while it is moist - this will help the water to evaporate, which will help their skin cool down
  • get them to drink water - sports or rehydration drinks are fine too

Stay with them until they are better.

They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes. If in any doubt, seek help.

Call 999 if you or someone else have any signs of heatstroke: feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water, not sweating even while feeling too hot, a high temperature of 40C or above.

Source: NHS and BBC News

Get advice and support from a Glass Door caseworker at one of our partner day centres

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