The Met Office has raised heatwave alerts in more parts of Britain, in addition to those in place in London and the South East, as the sunshine and soaring temperatures show no sign of abating.
Following the latest Met Office alert, Public Health England is continuing to remind people to be aware of the health risks of hot weather.
The key public health messages for staying safe:
- Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
- If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
- Avoid physical exertion
- Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes
- Drink plenty of cold drinks
- Keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator
- Look out for others especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
It can get uncomfortably hot indoors too. Try to keep bedrooms and living spaces cool by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun and opening windows at cooler times of the day and overnight when safe to do so.
Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.
Health and social care workers, hospitals and care homes are advised to regularly check on vulnerable patients, share sun safety messages, make sure room temperatures are set below 26 degrees, ensure patients have access to cold water and ice and that medicines are stored in a cool place.
In the wake of several deaths as people try and escape the heat by swimming, emergency services have reiterated warnings over the dangers of swimming in open water and quarries.
A 16-year-old boy, who was from London but had been staying in Ely, Cambridgeshire, until recently, and a 41-year-old man, from King's Lynn, were found dead in separate lakes at Bawsey Pits, Norfolk, this week.
The London Fire Brigade issued a warning:
If you jump into a lake or river, it's hard to see stuff under the water that can trap you, or currents that can carry you away from shore.
2 people drowned in lakes in the UK last night & we don't want to be faced with a similiar tragedy here in London #HeatWave
Dangers of open water include:
- The depth of the water - this changes and is unpredictable
- Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
- Water quality such as toxic algal blooms and industrial/agricultural pollution
- Submerged objects may not be visible
- Obstacles or other people in the water
- Lack of safety equipment and increased difficulty for rescue
- The shock of cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water
- The height of the fall or jump if tombstoning
- Uneven banks and river beds
The Royal Live Saving Society (RLSS) have urged swimmers to look out for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you intend to swim and has issued the following guidelines for safe swimming.
- Swim at unsupervised (lifeguarded sites)
- Jump into the water until you have acclimatised to the water temperature
- Jump into the water from extreme heights
- Swim into deep water which will be colder
If someone is in difficulty in the water:
- Shout reassurance to them and shout for help and ensure the emergency services are on their way (call 999 or 112)
- Without endangering yourself, see if you can reach out to them, extend your reach with a stick, pole, item of clothing, lie down or stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy, part filled plastic container, ball or anything that will float
- Keep your eye on them all the time and shout reassurance urging them to propel themselves to safety
Firefighters have also been dealing with twice as many grass fires in the capital compared with last year and are warning that they could rise further unless people act responsibly.
The London Fire Brigade’s top tips on preventing grass fires are as follows:
- Never leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them.
- Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire.
- Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes safely.
- Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires.