Heatwave and Drought

droughtMost of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s too hot for too long there are health risks. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. If a heatwave occurs, make sure the hot weather doesn’t harm you or anyone you know.

A heatwave is when the daily maximum temperature exceeds 28°C and the minimum temperature is higher than 15°C for two weeks or the daily maximum temperature exceeds 32°C for five consecutive days. There is a drought when there are periodic water interruptions for up to ten months.

The very young, the elderly and the seriously ill are the groups who are particularly at risk of health problems when the weather is very hot. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.

Top tips for keeping cool

  • Prepare cool rooms in your house and draw curtains to keep the inside of your home cool
  • If there is no security risk, open windows at night
  • Heat can increase air pollution, ensure you have adequate supplies of inhalers or other medication you may need
  • Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol if dehydration is a risk
  • Keep inside during the hottest part of the day - 11am to 3pm is when the sun is highest
  • Avoid sunburn - wear loose, lightweight clothing and use sun cream with a high sun protection factor on exposed skin
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast
  • If travelling take plenty of drinks, food and any medication you may need
  • Check yourself, family members and neighbours for signs of heat related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car
  • Avoid strenuous activities

Further information

  • For further advice and guidance visit the Heatwave and Summer Health pages of the NHS website, there is also information from the NHS about Heat exhaustion and Heat stroke.
  • Heat-Health Watch’ in England provides an alerting service between 1 June and 15 September each year, issuing tailored advice when temperatures are expected to rise significantly.