Heat and sun

Whilst many of us enjoy the sun and hot weather, we need to make sure we do so safely. We must remember that some groups of people are more vulnerable than others to the effects of heat. Young children and older people are particularly at risk. Over exposure to sun is dangerous with effects ranging from mild sunburn to skin cancer. It doesn’t have to be hot for the UV index to be high. The NHS provide information on how to cope in hot weather.

There is a detailed heatwave plan for England produced by the Department of Health offering excellent advice and guidance. The plan’s purpose is to raise both public and professional awareness in the event of a heatwave.

Heat-health watch service

This is a service run by the Met Office with the Department of Health. It is to help alert people to the health problems associated with high temperatures during the summer months. It operates from 1 June to 15 September each year. During this period, the Met Office will alert several organisations, including ourselves and medical professionals about the potential for extreme hot weather.

The heat-health watch service comprises four levels of response. It is based on threshold maximum day and night temperatures. The threshold for the South East region is 31°C by day and 16°C at night. These temperatures could have significant effect on health if reached on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night.

There are four different levels of response as below:

  • Level 1 - Awareness (Green) - the minimum state of vigilance during the summer.
  • Level 2 – Alert and readiness (Yellow) - triggered as soon as the risk is 60% or above for threshold temperatures being reached in one or more regions on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night.
  • Level 3 - Heat wave action (Amber) - triggered as soon as the Met Office confirms threshold temperatures will be reached in one or more regions. Heatwaves can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.
  • Level 4 – Emergency (Red) - reached when a heat wave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. Stay out of the sun. Keep your home as cool as possible. Keep drinking fluids.