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Although warm weather is usually thought of as a good thing, severe hot weather can have negative health effects. A heatwave can affect anyone, but those most at risk from hot weather health harms include: 

  • Older people (people aged 65 and over)
  • Those who struggle to keep cool, including but not limited to babies, the very young and the bed bound
  • Pregnant people
  • People who have serious or long-term illnesses
  • People who spend a lot of time outdoors or in hot places, such as those who live in top floor flats or have jobs outside

Advice for coping in hot weather

Advice for being safe in the heat includes:

  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when the UV rays are the strongest
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • If you have to go out in the heat, wear UV sunglasses to reduce UV exposure to the eyes, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly of at least SPF30 with UVA protection, wear a wide brimmed hat and light loose-fitting cotton clothes. This should minimise the risk of sunburn
  • Drink plenty of fluids and when travelling ensure you take water with you. Look out for others especially those particularly vulnerable to the heat such as older people, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • If medicines are sensitive to temperature, try keeping them in the fridge
  • Avoid physical exertion on very hot days, and during the hottest parts of the day
  • If you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice
  • Utilise Cool Spaces London for places of refuge when temperatures are excessively high
  • Take early action – seek advice from your local pharmacy if you have a long-term health condition and are starting to feel unwell before it gets more serious
  • If you are concerned about an adult, contact the Adult Social Care team

Adverse Weather and Health Plan

The Adverse Weather and Health Plan aims to protect individuals and communities from the health effects of adverse weather and to build community resilience.

The plan offers advice that can help prepare for, alert people to, and prevent the major avoidable effects on health during periods of severe heat in England. It also has guidance leaflets on staying safe in hot weather and keeping cool at home and other settings such as early years or care homes.

Local agencies have a duty to alert and respond to heatwaves and are required to register for the Heat-Health Alert service so they can receive alerts and advice to keep the public informed and safe. There are different required actions at according to the alert level. This information is set out in the hot weather and health: action cards.

Further advice

For more information:

For the vulnerable:

View the Adverse Weather and Health Plan and further government resources including leaflets and posters.

For organisations professionals:

Information in other formats and languages

The beat the heat: hot weather advice is available in an easy read format, BSL, home checklist and poster.

The guidance is also available in other languages on the GOV.UK website.

Updated: 12 July 2024

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