Home > My health > Tips for hot weather

Tips for hot weather

Hot weather is something many people look forward to every year and go out and enjoy. But it’s worth remembering that a heatwave can pose health risks for some people, such as older people, those with underlying health conditions and young children. So, if you can, please keep an eye on those you know who may be at risk this summer.

A lot of the advice on beating the heat is common sense, but it is important to protect yourself from too much sun or heat:

  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes
  • Children should not take part in vigorous physical activity on very hot days, such as when temperatures are above 30°C
  • Drink plenty of water – sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated. If drinking fruit juice, dilute it with water. Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with high water content

Older or disabled people

Severe heat is especially dangerous for older and disabled people, and those living in care homes. During a heatwave, when temperatures remain abnormally high for longer than a couple of days, it can prove fatal. In one hot ten-day period in Southeast England in August 2003, there were nearly 2,000 extra deaths.

The biggest increase in risk of death was among those in care homes. This factsheet for care homes gives advice on what to do before, and during, a heatwave.

Out and about

  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
  • Keep out of the sun when it is strongest – between 11am and 3pm
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day – in the early morning or evening
  • Make sure you carry water with you if you are travelling
  • If you have to go out in the heat, wear UV sunglasses, preferably wraparound, to reduce UV exposure to the eyes, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection and wear a hat.
  • Take care if you are going into the water to cool down and do not be tempted to swim in reservoirs as they can be very dangerous

Keep your living space cool

  • This is is especially important for infants, older people or those with long-term health conditions or anyone who cannot look after themselves
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun during the day, to keep indoor spaces cooler.  External shutters or shades are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat – consider placing reflective material between them and the window space
  • Open windows at night if it feels cooler outside, although be aware of security issues – especially in ground floor rooms.
  • Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – they generate heat

Look out for others

  • Keep an eye on isolated, older people, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool.
  • Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed

If you feel poorly

  • Seek medical advice if you are suffering from a long-term medical condition or taking multiple medications and have unusual symptoms
  • If you or others feel unwell, seek medical advice
  • If you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate,
  • If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, for example after sustained exercise during very hot weather), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 minutes, if you don’t start to feel better, seek medical help.

Useful sources of information in hot weather