How to keep cool in a heatwave | ͵͵


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How to keep cool in a heatwave

Most of us look forward to the warmer weather and feeling some sun on our faces. But it’s important to be prepared for hot weather as high temperatures can be dangerous to your health.

How can I stay cool when I'm out and about?

  • Try to avoid spending too much time outside or exercising during the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm), and try to keep in the shade where you can.
  • Wear a sun hat and carry a bottle of water with you.
  • Wearing light-coloured, lightweight cotton clothing can help keep you cooler than wearing dark-coloured and thick clothing.
  • Keep an eye on the forecast for any hot weather warnings or unseasonably warm weather
  • Make sure you apply sun cream. You should use at least SPF 15 and apply it regularly. Make sure you don't miss any spots – it can be easy to forget bald patches, for instance.
  • UV levels can still be harmful when it's cloudy out, so be careful even when it's not sunny.
  • Talk to your optician about prescription sunglasses. Make sure any sunglasses you wear have a CE mark and UV40 label.

Find your forecast

The Met Office provides short and long range weather forecasts across the UK to help you plan ahead.

How can I stay cool when I'm at home?

  • Keep blinds down and windows closed when it's cooler inside than out.
  • A cool bath or shower, or a damp cloth or a splash of water on the back of your neck can be better at cooling you down than a fan.
  • Most medication should be kept below 25°C – so it might be best to keep it in the fridge when it's really hot.
  • Check your skin every few months and keep an eye on any moles. If you notice any changes to their colour or shape, or if they bleed, don't hesitate to go and talk to your doctor.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated, but avoid alcohol as it can dehydrate you.
  • Keep eating even if you're not feeling too hungry. Try to eat more food that's cold and has a lot of water in it, like fruit or salad.

If it's going to be particularly hot and you think you might struggle, ask someone to check on you. It's also a good idea to check on others you think might struggle in the heat.

What should I do if I get dehydrated?

Extreme heat and dry conditions can cause you to overheat and make you dehydrated, which means you've lost more fluid than you're taking in. 

What are the symptoms of dehydration and overheating?

  • muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach
  • mild confusion
  • weakness
  • sleep problems.

What should I do if I'm dehydrated or overheating?

Rest in a cool, dark place and drink plenty of water. If your symptoms get worse, call NHS 111 for advice.

To avoid dehydration, make sure you're drinking plenty of fluids. Water, diluted squash or fruit juice are all good options. It's also good to eat a balanced diet to help your body replace any salt you lose by sweating.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is when you become very tired and feel unwell after spending long periods of time in the heat.

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • intense 
  • heavy sweating
  • fast pulse.

What should I do if I have heat exhaustion?

If you have any of these symptoms, try to:

  • find a cool place and loosen any tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cool water or have a cool shower.

Your symptoms should improve within 30 minutes. If you're feeling better but still have any concerns, call your doctor or NHS 111 for advice.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated. It can also develop suddenly and without warning.

What are the symptoms of heatstroke?

  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness.

What should I do if I have heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition. If you or someone else shows symptoms, you should:

  • call 999 immediately, or 112 if you're in the European Union (you can call this number from a mobile for free)
  • if you have a community alarm, press the button on your pendant to call for help.

While waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given for heat exhaustion but don't try to give fluids to anyone who's unconscious.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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