Keeping cool in hot weather

Keep cool in Kent. Drink plenty of water. Stay healthy this summer.

It is important to remember that whilst some of us enjoy the summer heat, there are health risks associated with hot weather, especially for those who are more vulnerable, such as elderly people, those with underlying health conditions and young children. (could this sentence be hyperlinked to the ‘Who is at risk’ section below?)

The main risks posed by heatwaves are:

  • not drinking enough water and suffering dehydration
  • overheating and heat exhaustion which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing

If you can, look out for vulnerable family, friends and neighbours to make sure they have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medication they regularly have to take, so they avoid needing the services of the NHS.

Health impacts of being exposed to high temperatures are not always immediately obvious, so it's important to keep an eye out for people falling ill in the days following a heatwave, as well as during it.

4 icons with advice about what to do in the heat. Water, drink plenty of water with a glass of water. Sunscreen, wear sunscreen above SPF15 and cover up in the sun, showing a tube of SPF15 sun cream. Rest, take rest breaks if you are out and about, showing a chair. Shade, stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm, showing a parasol shade.

Watch our video about checking on vulnerable residents during hot weather:

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Checking on vulnerable residents in the heat - video transcript

Tips for staying healthy in the sun

  • Be #weatherready by keeping up to date with the forecast and sign up for UKHSA Weather Health Alerts so you know when spells of extreme hot weather are expected.
  • Find out what the weather alerts mean via the Met Office website.
  • Drink plenty of fluid, carry water with you if you are travelling and avoid excess alcohol.
  • Try to keep out of the sun and avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm, when UV rays are strongest.
  • Apply sunscreen regularly (at least SPF30). Walking in the shade and wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also help keep you cool.
  • Never leave anyone vulnerable in a closed, parked vehicle, especially young children and the elderly. The same applies to pets.
  • Be aware that the sea is still cold even in summer so take care and follow local safety advice when going into the water to cool down.
  • Check medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging.

Keeping cool at home

  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun.
  • Keep windows in direct sun shut during the day and open them at night when the air is cooler outside.
  • Turn off all non-essential lights and electrical equipment to prevent them kicking out unnecessary heat.
  • Use electric fans if the temperature is below 35°C – but don’t point fans directly at someone because they can cause dehydration.
  • Consider using the oven to cook at the cooler times of the day and also moving to a cooler part of the house to sleep if necessary.
  • Check the heating is off!

Who is at risk?

The heat can affect anyone, but some people may be more at risk, including:

  • older people, especially those over 75 or who live on their own
  • those who find it hard to keep cool, such as, babies and the very young, the bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions
  • people with a serious or long-term illness including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease or some mental health conditions
  • people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control (for example diuretics, antihistamines, beta-blockers and antipsychotics)
  • people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places, those who live in a top-floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside.

Where to get help

Should you become unwell, unless it is an emergency, please remember to use 111 as your first point of contact for medical support. By phoning 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk, you will be directed to the right service for you.

In an emergency, always call 999.

Visit Kent and Medway Integrated Care System’s website to find local services, such as pharmacies and urgent treatment centres.

Links to further advice

The links below provide further advice about how to protect yourself and others:

In our video, Director of Public Health, Dr Anjan Ghosh, gives some tips and advice on staying safe in hot weather.

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Advice on staying safe and healthy in a heatwave - video transcript

We also have a video about how you can keep cool when out in hot weather.

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Keep cool in Kent video transcript

Air quality

Higher air temperatures and sunlight can speed up chemical reactions in the air that increase levels of air pollutants.

Learn how you can reduce your contribution to air pollution and sign up to Kent and Medway air quality alerts to stay updated on current air pollution levels near you.

Saving water

Heatwaves can lead to pressure on water networks, please use water sparingly and considerately to avoid possible shortages. Read our tips on how to save water.

There are a number of companies supplying water across Kent. For information on your current water service, how to sign up for vulnerable customer alerts or to report an issue, go to:

Other summer safety advice

Tips from Kent Fire and Rescue Service about how to enjoy the sunshine safely:

What we are doing

  • Health and social care professionals identify people they care for who are at high risk, make plans to support them, and will check on them regularly if the weather gets hot.
  • Care home managers and staff identify people they care for who are at high risk, make changes to working arrangements and facilities to reduce the risk, and will check on high risk people regularly if the weather gets hot.
  • The Beat the Heat: care home checklist is used by care home staff to identify situations where overheating may cause harm to health, actions to take, and where to get help and support.
  • Teachers and child care workers take steps to protect children outdoors and indoors during periods of high temperatures and can recognise the warning signs of heat stress, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.