With the heatwave predicted to bring temperatures above 35°c to parts of the UK over the next few days, the NHS have issued advice on how to keep cool and stay well.

Forecasters expect temperatures to rise throughout the week – culminating in what the Met Office has said could be the highest ever recorded in the UK.

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s too hot for too long, there are health risks. The NHS have issued advice to make sure the hot weather does not harm you or anyone you know.

Heatwave is forecast

The Met Office raises an alert if there’s a high chance that an average temperature of 30C by day and 15C overnight will occur over the next 2 to 3 days.

These temperatures can have a significant effect on people’s health if they last for at least 2 days and the night in between.

  • Although you do not need to take any immediate action, follow these steps in preparation:
  • Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio, TV or social media, or the Met Office.
    If you’re planning to travel, check the forecast at your destination.

Why is a heatwave a problem?

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • not having enough water (dehydration)
  • overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Who’s most at risk?

  • A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:
  • older people, especially those over 75
  • babies and young children
  • people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems
  • people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • people who misuse alcohol or drugs
  • people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports

Tips for coping in hot weather

  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it’s hotter outside. You can open the windows for ventilation when it’s cooler.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and do not go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Water, lower fat milks and tea and coffee are good options. You can also drink fruit juice, smoothies and soft drinks, but they can be high in sugar. Limit fruit juice or smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day, and choose diet or sugar-free soft drinks.
  • Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medicines you need.
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.

If you have concerns about how the heat is affecting your health or someone else’s, get medical advice.