Heatwave health alert sees Britain’s most vulnerable warned over soaring temperatures

Written by on 24th June 2020

The public have been advised to take care in the sun, with the most vulnerable – many of whom have been shielding during the coronavirus lockdown – urged to protect themselves amid the “exceptionally hot weather forecast this week”.

The level was raised to three by the Met Office for the West and East Midlands, which requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups.

People have also been advised to keep cool and stay hydrated where possible.
Today is the hottest day of the year so far as temperatures reached 31C (87.8F) at Heathrow Airport.
It is the highest temperature of 2020 but does not beat the June record of 35.6C (96F) set in 1976 in Southampton when Britain was hotter than Miami and Cuba.

Warnings have been issued about UV levels which are set to be exceptionally high in the coming days.

Public Health England (PHE) warned that older people, very young children and those with underlying health conditions were the most at risk from the soaring temperatures.

Emer O’Connell, consultant in public health at PHE, urged people to check on the vulnerable, as many continued to spend more time at home due to coronavirus.

She said: “You will need to do things differently this year, for example keeping in touch by phone.
“If you need to provide direct care to someone at risk from hot weather, follow government guidance on how to do this safely.
“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and know how to keep their homes cool.”

Health minister Jo Churchill encouraged people to apply sunscreen regularly and use protective wear.
She added: “Look out for those who are vulnerable in the heat, and provide support where needed, continuing to follow social distancing guidance.”
The Met Office also advised people to close curtains on rooms that face the sun and avoid excess alcohol.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said UV levels would reach eight across many parts of the country, and possibly reach level nine in some areas of Devon and Cornwall.

He said: “That’s about as high as it gets really in the UK.
“The sun is as strong as it gets at the moment because we’re so close to the solstice.

“We’ve got peak sun strength, clear skies, plenty of sunshine – it’s the perfect ingredients for high UV.”
People have flocked to beaches during the warmer weather this week after months of lockdown.

However, the public are being advised to be aware of spending more time in the sun as a result of social distancing measures, including queuing for supermarkets.

Dr Lynn Thomas, medical director at St John Ambulance, said: “You could end up in the sun for longer than expected on what would normally be a quick journey, such as queuing to enter the supermarket, so you should be prepared to look after yourself and others.”
She added: “Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two of the most serious problems that can develop when the mercury soars but by being prepared you can spot the early warning signs, such as headache and dizziness.”

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