COVID-19 and Heat
- You may need to do things differently this year, remember that while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, any additional government guidance will need to be followed. Government guidance is set to change in phases, keep up to date with restrictions by checking the government COVID-19 homepage.
Level 1: Actions to take when we are in heatwave season (June to September)
- There are actions you can take now to reduce harm to your health during hot weather. External shutters or shades are very effective at reducing indoor temperatures, internal blinds or curtains are less effective but cheaper and easier to install.
- In preparation for warmer weather, make sure where you live is protected. Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight, open windows when it is cooler and overnight if safe to do so. Turn off the central heating, and lights and electrical equipment that aren’t in use. Use electric fans if the temperature is below 35°C, but do not aim the fan directly at the body and do not use a fan if anyone in the home is unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Check that fridges and freezers are working properly.
- If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot home that is affecting your health or someone else’s health, seek medical advice. You may be able to get help from the environmental health department within your local authority; they can do a home hazard assessment. Contact email@example.com
- Stay hydrated- drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol. Keeping hydrated will be especially important for people who are unwell with COVID-19 infection and managing their symptoms at home.
- If you need to travel, ensure you take water with you.
Level 2: Actions to take when hot weather or heatwave is forecast
- Hot weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease. Advice on how to reduce the risk either for yourself or somebody you know can be obtained from the Heatwave Plan for England page, from your doctor or local chemist, or ring NHS 111.
- Check on older people or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during hot weather.
- Keep cool in the heatwave by drinking more water, wearing loose, light-coloured clothing and keeping in shaded and cooler areas as much as possible.
- Hot weather is forecast. Minimise travel if possible, stay in the shade whenever you can, drink more water than usual and apply suncream to yourself and your children when going outside.
- Hot weather is forecast. While we want everyone to enjoy the sun, please do not use disposable BBQs in parks and other public areas as there is a significant fire risk
Level 3: Actions to take during hot weather
- Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions. Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot.
- During the hottest periods, find the coolest part of your home or garden/outside or local green space to sit in.
- If you are spending time in shaded or cooler areas outside during the hot weather, remember to adhere to the current social distancing guidelines to minimise the risk of COVID-19. Remember, if you are required to stay at home (e.g. because you have COVID-19 infection or have been advised to self-isolate as a contact) then you should not use public spaces.
- During this heatwave, check-in on neighbours, friends and people you know who may be more at risk. This includes older people, people with a lack of access to outdoor space, and people with health conditions.
- During this heatwave, we kindly ask you to not use disposable BBQs in parks and other public areas as there is a significant fire risk.
- Avoid extreme physical exertion. If you can’t avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for cooler parts of the day: for example, early morning or evening.
- If possible and safe, open windows at night if it feels cooler outside.
- Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment- they generate heat
- Ensure that babies, children, older people and animals are not left alone in parked cars, which can quickly overheat.
Level 4: Ongoing actions to take during prolonged hot weather
- We are experiencing severe/prolonged hot weather and there are steps you can take to look after your health. Cool your skin with water/ice, slow down and reduce your travel, drink plenty of water and avoid excess alcohol.
- Continue practising Heat safe behaviours as described in Level 2/3
Look out for the signs of heat-related harm
Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when UV radiation is strongest. If you have to go out in the heat, wear UV sunglasses, preferably wraparound, to reduce UV exposure to the eyes, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen of at least SPF15 with UVA protection and wear a hat. Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes. Drink lots of fluids. This should reduce the risk of sunburn and heat-related harm.
During this heatwave, be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illness in yourself and others, including nausea, headaches, dizziness, intense thirst or exhaustion. Move to a cool space as soon as possible and drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate. Avoid excess alcohol. Call NHS 111 or contact your GP if you are concerned about the risk to yourself or your family. In an emergency dial 999.
If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms or abdomen, for example after sustained exercise during very hot weather), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 mins, and if not, they should seek medical help. Call 111 if you feel unusual symptoms or if symptoms persist.
Call 999 if a person develops any signs of heatstroke as this is a medical emergency. Further information on heatstroke and heat-related illness are available on the NHS website.