Your health & local services
Most of us look forward to the sun that summer brings and, while it’s important to make the most of the good weather, it's equally important to understand that there are health risks and how you can reduce them.
The main risks posed by excessive heat are:
- dehydration (not having enough water)
- overheating, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
- heat exhaustion and heatstroke
People most at risk are:
- older people, especially those over 75
- babies and young children
- people with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems
- people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke
- people with serious mental health problems
- people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
- people who misuse alcohol or drugs
- people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports
Tips for coping in hot weather:
The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable and reducing health risks:
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun.
- Don't go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you're vulnerable to the effects of heat.
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice.
- Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors.
Keep your house cool and ventilated:
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside.
- If it's safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows.
- If this isn't possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
Caring for yourself and for others:
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
- Seek medical help if symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or don't go away.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
- If someone feels unwell, get them somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink.
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or on the Met Office website.
Public Health England publishes a heat wave plan for England each year, outlining the actions members of the public can take to keep safe and well in hot weather:
A Heat-health watch system operates in England from June 1 to September 15 each year in association with The Met Office and Public Health England:
NHS Choices has more information about summer health including barbecue safety, getting vitamin D, preventing hayfever, sun safety for you and your children and holiday advice.