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Heat wave

A heat wave refers to a prolonged period of hot weather, which may be accompanied by humidity.

Daytime maximum temperatures above 31ºC and overnight minimum temperatures above 16ºC covering most of Medway for at least five consecutive days is likely to result in significant admissions to hospital and some deaths.

During the 2003 heat wave, temperatures were recorded at 38.5ºC a couple of miles outside Faversham. This heat wave is believed to have caused the deaths of an additional 2,139 people in the UK during a four-week period.

Those most at risk are babies, young children, the elderly, and people with long-term conditions. Please contact your doctor, pharmacist or NHS direct if you are worried about your health during a heatwave.

Download the Simple steps to keep cool at home.

Tips on how to stay safe and enjoy the heat wave

Medway public health experts have given some tips on how to stay safe while enjoying a heat wave.

When it hots up, many of us understandably like to be out of doors to make the most of the sunshine, but a heat wave can pose risks to babies and young children and to older people, especially if they have a long-term condition, such as heart or breathing problems. It is particularly important that those who are most vulnerable take precautions to avoid harm through heat exhaustion.

Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • If a heat wave is forecast, try and plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat
  • If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am–3pm)
  • If you must go out, stay in the shade
  • Wear a hat and loose fitting clothing, preferably cotton
  • If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you
  • Take cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck

Eat as you normally would but try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.

Following these simple steps will help those most at risk to enjoy the heat wave without putting themselves at risk.

Download the Beat the heat poster

The Heat-Health Watch System

This has four levels of response, based on threshold maximum daytime and minimum night-time temperatures (30oC by day and 15oC overnight).

Level 1 - Awareness

This is when the risk of threshold temperatures being breached exceeds 50 per cent. Advice for those at risk (babies, young children and the elderly or those with long-term conditions) is available from Kent and Medway NHS and local pharmacists.

Level 2 - Alert

This is triggered as soon as the risk of threshold temperatures being breached is 80 per cent in one or two regions on at least two consecutive days. Seek advice from the same sources as Level 1.

Level 3 - Heat wave

This is triggered when Meteorological Office confirms the threshold temperature has been breached in one or more regions.

Level 4 - Emergency

This level is reached when a heat wave is severe and/or prolonged, with the effects extending beyond the health and social care system. The advice for Level 3 or 4 is:

  • stay out of the sun
  • keep the home as cool as possible
  • keep drinking fluids
  • make sure that anyone you know who is at special risk, e.g. an older person living on their own, knows what to do.