An amber hot weather warning has been issued by the UK Health & Security Agency (UKHSA) and Met Office.
While many people enjoy warmer summer weather, hot weather can cause some people to become unwell through overheating (becoming uncomfortably hot), dehydration. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Anyone can become unwell when the weather is hot. People at higher risk of becoming unwell in hot weather include:
- older people aged 65 years and over (not change from previous guidance of 75 years of age and above)
- babies and young children aged 5 years and under
- people with underlying health conditions particularly heart problems, breathing problems, dementia, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, or mobility problems
- people on certain medications
- people with serious mental health problems
- people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example from diarrhoea and vomiting)
- people who experience alcohol or drug dependence
- people who are physically active and spend a lot of time outside such as runners, cyclists and walkers
- people who experience alcohol or drug dependence
- people who work in jobs that require manual labour or extensive time outside
- people experiencing homelessness, including rough sleepers and those who are unable to make adaptions to their living accommodation such as sofa surfers or living in hostels
- people who live alone and may be unable to care for themselves
You should continue taking all of your prescribed medicines unless advised not to by a medical professional. If you have any health concerns over the weekend, please call NHS 111. Some medications need to be stored below 250C or in the fridge, following the storage instructions on the packaging.
Please check in with anyone you think might be at risk and see if they need help.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body overheats and cannot cool down. Heat exhaustion does not usually need emergency medical attention if you cool down within 30 minutes. If you do not take action to cool down, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- feeling faint
- muscle cramps
- feeling or being sick
- heavy sweating
- intense thirst
Heatstroke is where the body is no longer able to cool down and the body temperature becomes dangerously high.
Common symptoms of heatstroke include:
- lack of co-ordination
- fast heartbeat
- fast breathing or shortness of breath
- hot skin that is not sweating
Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you think someone has heatstroke you should dial 999 and then try to cool them down.
How to cool down
How to cool down if you or someone else has symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- move to a cooler place such as a room with air conditioning or somewhere in the shade
- remove all unnecessary clothing like a jacket or socks
- drink cool water, a sports or rehydration drink, or eat cold and water rich foods like ice-lollies
- apply cool water by spray or sponge to exposed skin, and using cold packs wrapped in a cloth and put under the armpits or on the neck can also help
You should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes.
If you are concerned about symptoms, or they are worsening, seek medical advice by contacting NHS 111. In an emergency, or if you think someone has heatstroke, dial 999.
Be prepared for hot weather
It is important to follow the advice in this guidance to be prepared for hot weather. This is particularly important if you are higher risk of becoming seriously unwell. To prepare, you can:
- listen to the news and check your local weather forecast so that you know when hot weather is expected
- look out for advice on what to do if services such as power, water supplies and transport are likely to be affected
- check air pollution forecasts and advice, as air pollution can become worse during hot weather and can cause problems for people with asthma and other breathing problems
- when hot weather is expected, plan your activities to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm
Drink fluids regularly throughout the day especially if you are physically active. You should drink enough that your pee is a pale straw colour.
Water and diluted squash or lower fat milks are good choices. Fruit juice, smoothies and soft drinks can be high in sugar which dehydrates the body. Limit the amount of fruit juice or smoothies that you drink, and swap sugary soft drinks for diet, sugar-free or no added sugar varieties.
If you are going out, take a refillable bottle filled with water. Take extra water for journeys on public transport or by car.
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, so it is a good idea to choose alcohol-free options, or alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water.
If you are fasting during a heatwave, it is important to drink enough to adequately hydrate before you fast and follow the guidance on keeping cool and preventing dehydration. People with underlying health conditions should seek medical advice before fasting.
Protect yourself from the sun
The sun is often strong enough in the UK to cause sunburn and children are particularly at risk of skin damage from the sun.
Take the following actions to protect yourself from the sun:
- stay in the shade, between 11am and 3pm when the sun is strongest
- wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes, such as a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, or long skirts in close-weave fabrics
- wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, eyes, head, ears, and neck
- wear sunglasses which are wraparound or with wide arms to provide protection from the sun
- apply sunscreen generously and re-apply frequently, especially after activities that remove it, such as swimming or towelling. The NHS recommends that this should be with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and 4 or 5 star ultraviolet A (UVA) protection