Heatwave: level three alert

A level three heatwave alert means that there will be heatwave temperatures in one or more regions, and you should take steps to stay cool. Find out how best to cope with the hot weather.

Heat can affect your health more than you might think. Prolonged exposure to hot temperatures can lead to worsening of heart problems, respiratory difficulties and serious health problems, and can also cause heatstroke, which is potentially fatal.

High temperatures can be dangerous, especially for:

  • the elderly 
  • the very young 
  • people with chronic or long-term medical conditions, such as a heart condition or breathing problems

During alert level three:

  • Listen to alerts on the radio and TV about keeping cool.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel. 
  • Visit or phone people who are vulnerable, such as older people living on their own or people with health conditions. 
  • Stay inside and in the coolest room in your home as much as possible, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shade or reflective material outside the glass; if that's not possible, have light-coloured curtains and close them (metal blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Keep the windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside, and, if it's safe, open the windows at night when the air is cooler than the room.

Remember: 

  • Enjoy the weather, but try to stay cool.
  • Avoid going outside between 11am and 3pm, as this is the hottest part of the day.
  • Spend time in the shade and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Help others: check up on neighbours, relatives and friends who may be less able to look after themselves (for example, if they have mobility problems). 
  • It is more important to keep yourself and others cool if you or they have a heart or respiratory condition. If symptoms become worse, seek medical advice.
  • Drink water or fruit juice regularly.
  • Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol, and if you do drink alcohol make sure you have water or other non-alcoholic drinks too. 

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Severe heat can cause heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Keeping yourself cool will reduce the risk of getting either. If you start to feel unwell, it's important to seek medical advice.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle weakness or cramps
  • pale skin
  • a high temperature

If this happens, move somewhere cool and drink plenty of water or fruit juice. If you can, take a lukewarm shower or sponge yourself down with cold water.

Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • intense thirst
  • sleepiness
  • hot, red and dry skin
  • a sudden rise in temperature
  • confusion
  • aggression
  • convulsions
  • loss of consciousness

If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 immediately. Heatstroke can result in irreversible damage to your body, including the brain, or death.

Read more about the treatment of heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Page last reviewed: 03/07/2014

Next review due: 02/07/2016

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 17 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jackiet2 said on 17 July 2013

I'm really surprised that NHS has not included the old African trick to keep cool by evaporation.
Cool shower with t shirt on and dry naturally. I'm really cool until top dries - maximum indoors at moment is 3 hours doing that and more cooling than fans. I was dripping sweat until remembered that, not sweated since.
Still keep fluid intake up and more salt than normal, sorts you out.
60+ year old easy coping now remembered that!
It cools you naturally to get back to normal and maintains nicest/comfortable for body. Get hot again when top dried, just go wet it again -- simple and takes minimal water.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Jacqueline 28 said on 03 July 2009

I always need to cover my arms and legs with trousers and long sleeves. I need to put thin gloves on to peg washing on the line. I have spare thin cotton gloves in the car for more protection from the sun.
I have eczema, so I hate using cream as it creates more problems.
Most of the precautions are common sense anyway.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

b1528 said on 29 June 2009

Can heat cause a rash on the skin?

I suffer from sensitive skin and do not want to use any creams.


What would be ideal thing to do in such weather for someone with skin allergies?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Tools

Summer health

Be healthy and safe this summer, throughout heatwaves, barbecues, hay fever, stings and in the swimming pool

Level two heatwave alert

A level two alert means there's a significant chance of a heatwave in the next few days. Find out what you should do

Level four heatwave alert

What to do when a level four heatwave alert is issued, with advice on keeping cool and looking after people most at risk