It’s another scorching week for much of the country, with temperature records expected to be broken.
In fact it’s expected to be so hot, the Met Office issued an amber “heat health watch” for parts of England, urging people to either stay out of the sun or avoid being in it between 11am and 3pm.
So how can you stay cool during the hot weather and what can you do to look after those around you? Here’s the latest advice.
- What does the amber warning mean?
The Level 3 amber warning is the second highest heat warning the Met Office can issue. It is issued when temperatures are predicted to hit 30C during the day, and 15C at night, for at least two consecutive days.
The Met Office said there is a 90% possibility of heatwave conditions between 9am on Monday and 9am Friday in parts of England, mainly in the south and east.
The "heat health watch warning" is designed to make local services aware that these conditions are being met, and for them to take action.
If temperatures reach levels where a red Level 4 warning had to be issued, this would be considered a national emergency by the Met Office.
This would only be the case if a heatwave “is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social case system”. During a Level 4 warning, “illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups”.
- How hot could it get?
Forecasters said there was a chance of temperatures hitting 34C or 35C (95F), which could put Britons in line for the hottest day since the mercury hit 34.5C (94.1F) at Heathrow on June 21 last year.
The hottest July day on record is 36.7C (98F), which was reached at Heathrow on July 1 2015.
Porthmadog in North Wales holds the record for the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching 33C (91.4F) on June 28.
- Isn’t this just what summer is meant to be like?
Many might think so. After all, we often look enviously at some of our European neighbours during the summer months and wish we could rely on hot, sunny days when the kids are off school.
But this year nearly all of the UK is seeing above average temperatures – about 10C higher than would usually be expected at this time of year.
Instead of 23C (73.4F) which could usually be expected in London in July, temperatures could hit 34C (93.2F). Scotland, which averages 17C (62.6), could enjoy highs of up to 25C (77F), while Wales could jump to 26C (78.8F) or 27C (80.6F) instead of 19.2C (66.5F). And those in Northern Ireland may be basking in 24C (75.2F) rather than the July average of 18.5C (65.3F).
- So what’s the advice?
On the amber warning, the Met Office says people should stay out of the sun, keep your home as cool as possible and keep drinking fluids.
Rather than throwing all your windows open during the heat, it’s often better to shade windows and shut them during the day. You can open them when it’s cooler at night and in the evening.
And while it’s tempting to reach for your usual cup of tea or a nice cold beer or glass of wine, if things get really hot it’s advisable to stick to water and diluted fruit juice. Sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated.
If you do need to go outdoors, try to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm and wear loose, cool clothes, a hat and sunglasses – and don’t forget the sunscreen and plenty of water!
- Is there anything else I can do?
You might be coping OK, but do you know anyone who might be finding the heat a real struggle?
People with friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves should check up on them to make sure they’re alright – they’ll definitely appreciate your concern.
And of course, never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle – especially infants, young children or animals.
- What about my children?
Babies and young children can be more susceptible to illness during very hot weather.
Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight, while older infants should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Use a parasol or sunshade on their pram if you do have to go out.
You should also make sure your child is wearing a hat big enough to protect their head and neck from the sun.
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, they may want to feed more than usual – but you don’t need to give them water as well. If you’re bottle feeding, you can give your baby cooled boiled water in addition to their usual feeds.
Older children may get sick of too much water, so try a mixture of diluted fruit juice, ice cubes and homemade fruit juice lollies to keep them hydrated.
Paddling pools, cool baths and minimal nightwear and bedclothes will all help keep your child from overheating.
- Remember to stay safe
It can be tempting to go for a swim in a local lake or river to cool down during a heatwave.
But swimmers must remember to beware the dangers of drowning during what could seem like a casual dip.
Last year 255 people died as a result of accidental drowning, including seven children under the age of nine.
A particular risk can be cold water shock, which is one of the biggest causes of drowning – temperatures in seas, rivers, canals and lakes can be a low as 15C in summer, around half that of swimming pools.
The Local Government Association says people should only swim in water “that is clearly marked as safe and under the control of a lifeguard”.
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