Advice for coping in hot weather 

Temperatures are forecast to rise again over the weekend, with extremely hot weather looking likely from Sunday 17th July to Tuesday 19th July. As a result, the UK Health Security Agency has issued a Level 3 Heat Health Warning for the South West.

There are risks to all of us during periods of excess heat and we share some tips below on staying cool and what to do if you feel unwell in the heat.

And whilst many people love the sunshine and high temperatures, some people can be more vulnerable when it's really warm - so please keep an eye out for your family and neighbours who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated over the next few days.


Risks during hot weather

The main risks during hot weather are:

  • Not drinking enough water and becoming dehydrated
  • Overheating (a particular risk for people who already have heart or breathing problems)
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Look out for signs of heat related harm and respond as necessary. For example:

  • If you feel dizzy, weak or have intense thirst and a headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate and avoid excess alcohol.
  • If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms, or abdomen), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 minutes. If not, you should seek medical help. Call 111 if you feel unusual symptoms, or if symptoms persist.
  • Click here for more information about heatstroke and when you should call 999 for someone experiencing this condition. 

General advice on keeping cool when the temperatures are high

Here's some general advice, which might help you to stay as cool as possible as the temperatures rise:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding excess alcohol.
  • Close curtains and windows in rooms that face the sun during the day so you can keep indoor spaces cooler.
  • Turn off non essential lights and electrical equipment - they generate heat and cost money.
  • If possible and safe, open windows at night if it feels cooler outside.
  • During the hottest periods, try to find the coolest part of your home or garden/outside or local green space to sit in.
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
  • If you can, avoid physical exertion during the hottest parts of the day.
  • If you have to go outside in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Use cool spaces if going outdoors.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children, vulnerable adults, or animals.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing if possible.
  • Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling.
  • During warm weather, going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief. If you are going into open water to cool-down, take care and follow local safety advice.
  • If you get into trouble in the water, the RNLI urge you to remember 'Float to Live’. Resist the urge to thrash about, instead lean back, extend your arms and legs and gently move them around to stay afloat, once you can control your breathing, call for help or swim to safety.

Who is more vulnerable in hot weather?

Anyone can be at risk of health consequences as a result of hot weather, but there are things that make some people more vulnerable than others, including:

  • Older age - in particular people over 75, those living alone or who are socially isolated and those living in a care home
  • Chronic and severe illness - this includes heart or lung conditions, diabetes, renal problems, Parkinson’s disease and severe mental illness
  • Inabilty to adapt behaviour to keep cool - this includes babies and the very young, people with a disability, people who are bed bound and people with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Environmental factors and overexposure to the heat - for example, living in a top floor flat, being homeless, undertaking activity or work in hot places or outdoors, high levels of physical exertion

It’s important to be aware that those at risk from the hot weather may not recognise their own vulnerability to high temperatures. Please look out for people who may be more vulnerable over the next few days.


Advice if you’re caring for infants and young children

Children cannot control their body temperature as efficiently as adults during hot weather because they do not sweat as much and can therefore be at risk of ill-health from heat. During periods of high temperature, the following steps should be taken:

  • children should not take part in vigorous physical activity on very hot days, such as when temperatures are in excess of 30°C
  • encourage children playing outdoors to stay in the shade as much as possible, consider the shade available for your sports days and outdoor play
  • children should wear loose, light-coloured clothing to help keep cool and sunhats with wide brims to avoid sunburn
  • regularly apply sunscreen (at least factor 15 with UVA protection) to protect skin if children are playing or taking lessons outdoors for more than 20 minutes
  • provide children with plenty of water (such as water from a cold tap) and encourage them to drink more than usual, particularly if they are taking part in sports day events or outdoor play

Useful links during periods of hot weather

For further NHS heatwave health advice click here.  

For up to date weather warnings from the Met Office click here.

For up to date advice if you’re travelling during hot weather see the following:

National Rail

Travel updates for the South West

National Highways information

Traffic England Information

Somerset travel information

Published: Jul 14, 2022