How to stay safe in a heatwave as UK temperatures continue to climb

How to stay safe in a heatwave as UK temperatures continue to climb
Here's everything you need to know about staying fit and well during a heatwave (Photo: Shutterstock)

With heatwave temperatures of above 30 degrees celsius expected across the UK this week, forecasters are warning the public to take extra care when going about their usual activities.

Sunburn and dehydration are two major side effects of hot weather that everyone should be aware of, but here are some other tips for dealing with this sweltering summer heat.

Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is especially important during a heatwave, as sweating increases.

Drink cold drinks of water or diluted fruit juice regularly when temperatures are high. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee and cola) or drinks high in sugar.

Wear sun cream

If you do have to be out and about in the sun, remember to wear sun cream to save yourself from getting sunburn.

When the sun is intense, regular applications of factor 50 will protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Dress appropriately

Keep an eye on the weather forecast when you are getting ready in the morning, and dress accordingly. If high temperatures are predicted, wear loose, cool clothing, and consider putting on a hat and sunglasses if you will be outdoors for an extended period of time.

Drink plenty of cold water, and avoid excess caffeine when temperatures are high (Photo: Shutterstock)
Drink plenty of cold water, and avoid excess caffeine when temperatures are high (Photo: Shutterstock)

Some workplaces relax their dress codes during heatwaves, so make sure to check with your employer – you may be able to swap your suit for something cooler and more comfortable until the weather cools down.

Stay inside when the sun is most intense

The hottest part of the day falls between 11am and 3pm, so do your best to stay inside during this period.

Keep your home as cool as possible

If you don’t have the luxury of air conditioning, keep your home as cool as possible by shutting windows and closing curtains or blinds when it is very hot outside. Once the temperature drops again, you can open your windows for ventilation.

Bear in mind that metallic blinds and dark coloured curtains can make a room hotter, but you can keep the heat out of these spaces by using shades or reflective material outside your windows.

Exercise with caution

If you choose to exercise outside during a heatwave, try to do so either early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun is not so intense.

Remember to wear sun cream, carry water with you and consider cutting down your workout time for your own safety.

Keep a close eye on vulnerable people

Older people (especially those over 75), babies and young children are all at high risk of dehydration, overheating and heat exhaustion during extremely warm weather.

Consider changing your exercise routine when the weather is very hot (Photo: Shutterstock)
Consider changing your exercise routine when the weather is very hot (Photo: Shutterstock)

However, those with chronic illnesses (both physical and mental), people who misuse drugs or alcohol and those who are physically active are also vulnerable.

As well as keeping yourself safe, it is important to check in on others, particularly if they fall into the above categories.

Know the signs of heat-related illness

If you notice some or all of the following symptoms in yourself or someone else during a heatwave, seek help from a doctor:

  • breathlessness
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • intense thirst
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • cramps which get worse or don’t go away

If you are helping someone else who is unwell, get the person somewhere cool to rest and make sure to give them plenty of fluids to drink.