The Thames Valley has a rich countryside with a variety of natural attractions, open spaces and tourist attractions to enjoy when the sun comes out. But enjoying the outdoors can pose a risk when temperatures soar. Very high temperatures in summer are expected to become more frequent in coming years..
Whilst most people look forward to warm sunshine days after winter, high temperatures can be deadly for some. It is therefore vital to be well prepared and take care during hot weather.
How could this affect me?
Extreme heat can be dangerous if you’re elderly, very young or have an existing health problem. During a heatwave, where temperatures remain abnormally high for longer than a couple of days, the number of deaths and cases of serious illness rise.
High temperatures can lead to respiratory problems, dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn, often resulting in emergency medical treatment and hospitalisation. Travelling can be uncomfortable, particularly when vehicles are stationary and engines overheat, and roads and pathways may melt. Heatwaves can also lead to power cuts and water shortage.
How to prepare
- Stay informed – look at the weather forecast and check warnings from the Met Office to find out the risk for your area
- Read the NHS Heatwave advice for tips on how to cope in hot weather
- Keep an eye on the temperature – the trigger for a heat health alert in is 30°C on successive days and an intervening night temperature no lower than 15C
- Be aware of the signs of heat-related illness.
- Ensure you have enough drinking water, food and medicine to avoid having to go out
- Fill spray bottles with cool water to use on your face and body
- Check fridges, freezers, fans and air-conditioners are working properly
- Insulate your home to keep it cool in summer and warm in winter
- Keep electronic devices such mobile phones and laptops fully charged in case of a power cut
What to do during a heatwave
- Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
- Apply sunscreen regularly and wear a hat when outdoors
- Keep hydrated
- Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
- Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes but if you suspect it has turned into heatstroke, call 999
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves
- If you go to open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice
- There is an increased risk of wildfires during hot weather, so be sure to enjoy the outdoors safely
- If you are travelling, make sure you take water with you
- Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler
- Open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside, for example, at night. Try to get air flowing through your home if possible
- Check storage instructions for any prescribed medicines you are taking and store in the fridge if necessary
- NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children and animals
- Follow instructions from the emergency services and local authorities
What to do after a heatwave
- If you experience any symptoms related to heat-related illness, even after the heatwave has passed, seek medical attention and/or advice
- If you have suffered heat exhaustion or heatstroke, take time to rest and recover for as long as your GP advises, avoiding hot weather and exercise
- If there has been a power cut, dispose of any food in the fridge or freezer that may have become wet or warm
- If you have struggled to keep cool at home, consider putting up external shading and/or growing trees or plants near windows