The Met Office has today issued a Level 3 Heatwave Alert for the South East Region, which means there is a 90% probability of heatwave conditions between 0900 today (Wednesday) and 2100 on Thursday in parts of England.
The trigger level for the South East is 31°c on 2 or more consecutive days and 16°c during the night.
During a heatwave there are a few groups of people who are at higher risk of suffering from severe health effects, these include babies and very young children, older people, people with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory or renal problem, Parkinson’s disease or severe mental illness. Also, those on medications which affect renal function, sweating or make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Some housing may also affect people’s ability to keep cool, such as living near the top of high rise flats or being homeless.
The Department of Health Heatwave Plan has some simple advice to help people cope with the heat. These are particularly important for those in the high risk groups in order to avoid suffering ill-effects from the heat:
1. Stay out of the heat:
- Keep out of the sun between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
- If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.
- Avoid extreme physical exertion.
- Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
2. Cool yourself down:
- Have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks.
- Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
- Take a cool shower, bath or body wash.
- Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of
3. Keep your environment cool:
- Keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions or who can’t look after themselves.
- Place a thermometer in your main living room and bedroom to keep a check on the temperature.
- Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
- Close curtains that receive morning or afternoon sun. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider replacing or putting reflective material in-between them and the window space.
- Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat.
- Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air.
- If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping.
- Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C.2
For further information, the government have a document (PDF format) to download by clicking here.