We want to help you and your family stay safe and well during summer.

The summer months are the time for getting outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather. Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks.

Some people are more at risk of harm from high temperatures and need to be more careful. These include older people (particularly people aged over 75), people who live on their own, people who have long-term health conditions, babies and young children, and people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places.

To keep everyone safe and well over summer we have some useful information, hints and tips to help you stay happy and healthy. We also want to make sure that you know where to get help and support if you need it.

Top tips to stay safe and well:

  • Wear loose fitting, cotton clothing that covers your body as much as possible
  • Apply SPF 30+ UVA sunscreen with a star rating of five, at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun
  • Wear protective clothing including a sun hat and sunglasses
  • Shade from the sun whenever possible, especially between 11am and 3pm
  • Have plenty of cold drinks, but cut back on alcohol and caffeinated drinks, and eat cold foods with a high water content like salads and fruit
  • Have a cool shower, bath or wash
  • Keep your living space as well-ventilated as possible by opening windows if the air feels cooler outside, and by closing curtains on windows that get morning or afternoon sun – but be careful if you have metal blinds as these can absorb heat
  • Turn off lights and electrical equipment when they are not in use
  • Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air
  • Use electric fans, which may provide some relief, but don't use a fan if anyone in your household is unwell with symptoms of coronavirus
  • If driving, make sure your vehicle is well ventilated and take plenty of water with you

  • If you live on your own ask someone to check up on you regularly during periods of extreme heat

More detailed advice and guidance to help you stay safe this summer

Stay cool and hydrated

It is vital that everyone stays hydrated, particularly in hot weather. However, older people are more susceptible to dehydration. The ability to conserve water lessens as we get older and we can become less aware of being thirsty and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes. 

You should top up with water regularly to avoid feeling tired or confused. Adults should aim for 1.5 to 2 litres (6 to 8 glasses) of liquid intake per day. This should be drank throughout the day, rather than large amounts in one go. A straw can be helpful, as can taking drinks from small glasses.

Stay sun safe

Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn doesn't just happen on holiday - you can burn in the UK too, even when it's cloudy. There's no safe or healthy way to get a tan. A tan doesn't protect your skin from the sun's harmful effects, so you must make sure sunscreen is used.

Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight with short regular time spent outdoors.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

If you or someone else feels unwell, dizzy, anxious, very thirsty, or are experiencing have painful muscle spasms, this could be a sign of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes. To cool down, rest immediately in a cool place, drink plenty of water and use rehydration solutions if suitable. If you are unable to cool down after 30 minutes, you could be suffering from heatstroke.

Heatstroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia, that can be life threatening. Look out for symptoms of heatstroke such as body temperature over 104 degrees, headache, nausea, dry skin and no sweating, agitation, and heavy breathing.

The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy. Heatstroke needs to be treated as an emergency.

Find out more about the symptoms and treatment for heat exhaustion and heatstroke on the NHS website.

Keep active

Daily exercise is important to help you keep fit and well. Taking exercise each day, even just a walk out in the fresh air, helps you stay strong and healthy.

It lowers your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. It also has real benefits to your mental health, boosting your self-esteem and improving your sleep.

Exercise also helps you to avoid falls, particularly exercise that builds strength and balance.

During the summer, avoid or limit strenuous activity when it is very hot outside, or keep outdoor activity such as sports, DIY or gardening to cooler parts of the day.

Manage long-term conditions

It’s important that anyone living with a long-term health condition such as COPD, heart problems or diabetes learns to manage the condition. This is especially important during warmer weather where you may struggle in the heat, which can make symptoms worse.

Keep medicines below 25°C or in the refrigerator. Always read the storage instructions on the packaging.

Many prescription medicines can reduce your tolerance to heat. Keep taking your medicines and seek medical advice.

Swimming outdoors

If you decide to take a swim outdoors in the sea, a pool, a river or lake to keep cool, make sure it’s a safe place to swim.

Look out for warning signs and hidden dangers. Children should never swim unaccompanied.

Find out more about water safety on the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) website

Look out for others

Never leave anyone in a closed, stationary vehicle during hot weather.

Make regular checks on people living alone, elderly or ill people, vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, and very young people during periods of extreme heat. Make sure they are able to keep cool.

Be alert and seek medical help if someone is unwell.

Food safety

Summer is a great time to enjoy a BBQ or picnic with family and friends. Stay safe and remember that warm weather and outdoor cooking can create the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow.

Food poisoning can be avoided by following good food hygiene practices and avoiding cross-contamination. This is most likely to happen when raw food touches or drips onto ready-to-eat food, utensils, or surfaces. Keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation and chilled and out of the sun until serving.

If you have food left over, cover and cool cooked foods quickly at room temperature. Place them in a fridge or cool bag within one to two hours and consume within 48 hours. If you’re reheating anything, only reheat it once and make sure it’s piping hot before serving.

Find out more about food and BBQ safety on the Food Standard Agency's website.

Stay informed about the weather

The UK is prone to extreme weather, from heavy rain to heatwaves, keep up to date with weather and temperature updates via the Met Office (the national meteorological service for the UK). Always check the weather forecast and plan ahead.

Pet safety

Never leave animals in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it's just for a short while.

When it's 22°C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C in these environments, which can be deadly.

You can also keep your pets safe by:

  • Making sure they have shade 
  • Giving them constant access to fresh water
  • Putting ice cubes in their water bowl
  • Giving them damp towels to lie on

Find out more about caring for your pets in hot weather on the RSPCA's website.

Childhood vaccinations

Vaccinations are the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill health. 

It is important that vaccines are given on time for the best protection. To prepare your child for returning to school, college or university in September, make sure they are up to date with the vaccinations they need.

Find out more about vaccinations on the NHS website.