Hot weather or a heatwave can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm.
How you can stay safe in hot weather
Hot weather can cause some people to become unwell through overheating, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Adults older than 65 years, people with heart and lung problems or other chronic diseases, and very young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat.
Some tips to help you stay safe in hot weather include:
- Keep out of the sun at the hottest time of the day, from 11am-3pm. Plan any physical activity when it's cooler, such as in the morning or evening.
- Apply sunscreen generously. Sunscreen should, at least, have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and a 4-star ultraviolet A (UVA) protection. Sunscreen and sun safety advice from the NHS
- Cover up with suitable clothing to protect yourself from the sun. Wear light, loose-fitting clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water and diluted squash are good choices to stay hydrated. Fruit juice, smoothies and soft drinks can be high in sugar which dehydrates the body. If you're going out, consider taking a refillable water bottle.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink. If you're drinking alcohol, also drink water so you don't become dehydrated.
- If you're having a barbecue, check that it's well away from sheds, fences, trees, dry grass, shrubs, or garden waste. When it's finished, extinguish the barbecue safely. Take care of hot ashes to avoid the risk of fire.
How to keep your home cool
Homes can overheat and become uncomfortable during warmer weather.
Some tips to help keep your home cool include:
- Close windows, curtains, blinds and external shutters on windows that are exposed to direct sunlight.
- If the air outside feels cooler than inside, such as at night, open the windows to try and get air flowing through your home.
- Use electric fans if the air temperature is below 35 degrees Celsius. Don't aim the fan directly at your body, which can lead to dehydration.
- Check that any heating is turned off.
- Turn off lights and electrical equipment when it's not in use.
Check in with people who are most at risk from hot weather
Remember to look out for those who may be more at risk from the effects of heat including:
- Older people aged 65 years and over.
- Babies and young children aged 5 years and under.
- People with physical or mental health conditions.
- People who have alcohol or drug issues.
- People who spend a lot of time outside for exercise or work.
- People at risk of homelessness, including rough sleepers. Support for people at risk of homelessness
It's worth checking if they're keeping their home as cool as possible.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats and can't cool down. It doesn't usually need emergency medical attention if you cool down within 30 minutes.
If you're unable to cool down, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. Your body temperature will become dangerously high and won't be able to cool down. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone else has signs of heatstroke, call 999.
Swimming safely in hot weather
You may think swimming is a fun way to cool down when the weather is hot. However, summer months are also associated with an increase in drowning accidents.
Some tips to help keep you safe when swimming:
- Always look for warning and guidance signs.
- Be aware that open water can be much colder than it looks, which can lead to cold water shock. Don't jump directly into any open water as the shock could kill you.
- Only swim outside where it's safe and supervised.
- Only enter the water in areas with lifeguard cover.