Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s too hot for too long there are health risks. If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot weather doesn’t harm you or anyone you know.
The main risks posed by a heatwave are:
A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:
The Meteorological Office has a warning system that issues alerts if a heatwave is likely. Level 1 is the minimum alert and is in place from June 1 until September 15 (which is the period that heatwave alerts are likely to be raised).
Although you don’t have to do anything during a level 1 alert, it is advisable to be aware of what to do if the alert level is raised. Knowing how to keep cool during long periods of hot weather can help save lives.
Public Health England (PHE) has advice on how to stay safe during a heatwave (PDF, 417kb).
The Met Office raises an alert if there is 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 don’t need to take any immediate action, follow these steps in preparation:
This alert is triggered when the Met Office confirms there will be heatwave temperatures in one or more regions.
Follow the instructions for a level 2 alert. The following tips apply to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable, and reducing health risks.
If you’re worried about yourself or a vulnerable neighbour, friend or relative, you can contact the local environmental health office at your local authority.
Environmental health workers can visit a home to inspect it for hazards to health, including excess heat. Visit GOV.UK to find your local authority.
This is the highest heatwave alert in Britain. It is raised when a heatwave is severe and/or prolonged, and is an emergency situation.
At level 4, the health risks from a heatwave can affect fit and healthy people, and not just those in high-risk groups. These groups include the elderly, the very young and people with chronic medical conditions.
Follow the information given above for a level 3 alert. Check that anyone around you who is in a high-risk group is coping with the heat.
Seek help from a GP or contact NHS 111 if someone is feeling unwell and shows symptoms of:
cramps which get worse or don’t go away
Get the person somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink.