How to stay cool during a heatwave and how to spot heatstroke and heat exhaustion

Weather Presenter Sally Williams explains what heatwaves are and what you can do to stay cool

A lot of us like the warm dry and sunny weather, but when those hot days turn into potentially record-breaking and deadly temperatures, it can put stress on our bodies.

During hot weather, Public Health England (PHE) advises people to stay cool indoors and look out for the elderly, children and pets.

Here are some top tips on how you can cope with the hot weather:

Stay well hydrated

Drink plenty of water and avoid excessive alcohol.

If you're travelling, remember to take a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated

Credit: Stephen Pond/PA

Look out for other people

The elderly, those with underlying health conditions and those who live on their own are particularly at risk.

It's important that you should not leave pets or children in closed, parked vehicles for their health and safety as they could overheat and become unwell.

Keep your home cool and stay indoors

During the day, you should close your curtains and windows in rooms that face the sun to help keep rooms cool.

The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm so you should avoid being out during the hottest time of day.

Open windows when you think its cooler outside than inside, otherwise you'll just let the hot air in. Often this is at night, and try to get some air flowing through.

Turn off any lights and electrical equipment when it's not in use.

Credit: PA Images

Take precautions outdoors

If you do head out, make sure you use cool spaces considerately.

People are advised to walk in the shade, to regularly apply sun cream and wear a wide-brimmed hat and light-coloured, loose clothing.

If you want to exercise, you should avoid doing this during the hottest part of the day (between 11am - 3pm).

What are the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

The main causes of illness and death during a heatwave are respiratory and cardiovascular disease. There are two specific heat-related illnesses:

  • Heat exhaustion

  • Heatstroke

Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling sick or irritability, dizziness, muscle cramps, feeling faint, headaches, fatigue, heavy sweating, loss of appetite and being very thirsty.

If someone has heat exhaustion, they should lie down in a cool place with their feet slightly raised.

They should drink plenty of water and cool their skin either with a spray or sponge with cool water, a fan or cold packs around the armpits or neck.

Signs of heatstroke include hot, dry skin or excessive sweating, confusion, loss of consciousness, unresponsive, seizures or fits and a very high body temperature.

People are advised to call 999 if someone shows symptoms of heatstroke, which includes feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place.

A person suffering heatstroke should be placed in the recovery position if they lose consciousness while waiting for help.