Types of emergency

Heatwave

Severe heat during summer can be very damaging to the health, and on rare occasions can be fatal.

For regular warnings and updates on weather forecasts, visit the Met Office website

Who is most at risk from the heat?

Everyone should be careful in the sun, but some groups are more at risk than others. Those at greater risk are:

  • older people - check on older neighbours and relatives as often as possible, reminding them to drink plenty and often
  • babies and young children - ensure they are kept in the shade and given regular drinks throughout the day to prevent them from dehydration
  • people with mental health problems
  • people with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems
  • people who already have a high temperature from an infection
  • people who use alcohol or illicit drugs
  • people with mobility problems.

Advice for looking after yourself and others

  1. Stay hydrated - always carry water with you and drink regulary even if you do not feel thirsty. Try to avoid alcohol, tea and coffee, as they can make dehydration worse.
  2. Wear protective clothing - where possible, wear loose fitting clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses.
  3. Generously apply sunscreen - cover all exposed skin using a sun protection factor of at least 15, which provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply every 2 hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or towelling. 
    Read more about sunscreen and sun safety
  4. Seek shade - stay in the shade when appropriate, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun's UV rays are at their strongest.
  5. Avoid strenuous activity - avoid taking part in outdoor activities, such as sports, DIY or gardening - keep it for the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning.
  6. Stay cool indoors - stay in the coolest rooms of your house, keeping curtains closed, and take regular cool showers or baths. Open windows in different locations throughout your home, leaving doors open (if possible) to create a breeze throughout the house, which will aid the cooling process. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment, as they generate heat. Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C.
  7. Look out for the signs of heat-related harm - if you feel dizzy, weak or have intense thirst and a headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or diluted fruit juice to rehydrate. Avoid excess alcohol. If you have painful muscular spasms (particularly in the legs, arms, or abdomen), rest immediately in a cool place and drink electrolyte drinks. Most people should start to recover within 30 minutes; if not, you should seek medical help. Call 111 if you feel unusual symptoms, or if symptoms persist. If a person develops any signs of heatstroke, call 999, as this is a medical emergency. 

Read more advice on how to cope in hot weather

Contact your doctor, pharmacist or NHS direct if you have any concerns about your health, skin or the effects of heat.

Travelling on the underground

During hot weather, the number of passengers who become unwell on trains increases. 

Follow these tips to help keep yourself and others well.

  • Remove coats and jackets when on a train.
  • Carry a bottle of water with you at all times.
  • Pay attention to the people around you - offer a seat to anyone who may need it.
  • Open the windows in the carriage end doors.
  • Do not travel if you feel unwell.
  • If you become unwell during your journey, get off the train at the next station and request help from staff on the platform or via a help point.

Check the TfL website regularly for travel updates

Schools

All Hillingdon schools should follow national guidance on keeping cool during a heatwave and make local decisions on relaxing uniforms, wearing protective hats, staying out of the sun for outdoor activities, such as PE, and drinking water during lessons. If you have any queries, please contact your child's school directly. 

Protecting pets

Ensure you protect pets by either bringing them inside or ensuring they are provided shade. Give them appropriate amounts of water and remember to refill as required. Never leave any pets alone in a car, especially during a heatwave. 

Read the RSPCA's animal welfare advice for summer

Grass fires

Long periods of hot and dry weather can increase the risk of grass fires. 

Check what can cause a grass fire and find tips on how to prevent them on our Grass fires web page.

Page last updated: 08 Aug 2022