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Heatwave: how to cope in hot weather - Healthy body

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Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks. In England, there are on average 2000 heat related deaths every year. If hot weather hits this summer, make sure it does not harm you or anyone you know.

Why is a heatwave a problem?

The main risks posed by a heatwave are: 

Who's most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • older people – especially those over 75
  • those who live on their own or in a care home
  • people who have a serious or long term illness – including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson's disease or some mental health conditions
  • those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and the very young, the bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer's disease
  • people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – those who live in a top floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside

Coronavirus

At the moment people are more at risk from heat related problems. Check on vulnerable people you know and get medical help if needed.

Tips for coping in hot weather

  • look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  • stay cool indoors – many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool
  • close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • if going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately, keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines
  • follow coronavirus social distancing guidance and wash your hands regularly
  • drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day
  • make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling
  • if you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice
  • Remember that while coronavirus restrictions are in place, you will need to follow government guidance to use public spaces safely

Public Health England has more tips on how to beat the heat in the Heatwave Plan for England.

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot house that's affecting your health or someone else's, get medical advice.

You can also get help from the environmental health office at your local authority. They can inspect a home for hazards to health, including excess heat.

Find your local authority

Page last reviewed: 28 June 2019
Next review due: 28 June 2022