To keep everyone safe and well over summer we have some useful information, hints and tips to help us all stay happy and healthy.
The summer heat can affect us all. Some people are more at risk of harm from high temperatures and need to be more careful. These include older people, especially those over 75, people who live on their own, those with a pre-existing health condition, babies and young children and people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places.
Download and save this booklet for advice on how to keep safe and well during summer and a handy directory of helpful contacts.
Stay cool and hydrated
It’s really important during warmer weather to keep hydrated. Top up regularly with water to avoid feeling tired and confused. Healthy adults should aim for 6 to 8 glasses (1.5 to 2 litres) of water per day. Drink frequently through the day, rather than large amounts in one go. A straw can be helpful, as can taking drinks from small glasses, rather than being daunted by a tall drink.
Encourage young children to drink regularly as they may not recognise they are thirsty.
If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need to give your baby water as well as breast milk. But they may want to breastfeed more than usual.
If you’re bottle feeding, as well as their usual milk feeds, you can give your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day and if they wake at night.
Keep your child’s bedroom cool during the day by closing blinds or curtains and using a fan facing away from your child. Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum. Monitor the temperature of your baby’s room. You should aim for their room to be between 16°C (61°F) and 20°C (68°F), ideally 18°C.
Stay sun safe
Look after your skin, especially during the summer months. Sunburn doesn't just happen on holiday - you can burn in the UK, even when it's cloudy. Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. To avoid sunburn use sunscreen (at least factor 30).
Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight with short regular exposures outdoors. Think about taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D to protect bone and muscle health.
Babies should be kept out of direct sunlight. Prams should not be covered with blankets, cloths or any cover that prevents the air from circulating. Instead attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
In hot weather, feeling unwell, dizzy, anxious, very thirsty or having painful muscle spasms could be signs of heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion is not usually serious if you can cool down within 30 minutes. Rest immediately in a cool place, drink plenty of water and use rehydration solutions if suitable. If you are unable to cool down after 30 minutes this could turn into heatstroke.
Heatstroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia and can be life threatening. Look out for body temperatures over 104°F or 40°C, headaches, nausea, dry skin and no sweating, agitation, and heavy breathing.
The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy. Treat heatstroke as an emergency and get help by calling NHS 111 if you still feel unwell after 30 minutes of symptoms starting.
Keep up-to-date with weather and temperature updates on our severe weather page.
If you decide to swim outdoors in the sea, a pool or river to keep cool, you must make sure it’s a safe place to swim. Look out for warning signs and hidden dangers.
Children should never swim in these areas unaccompanied - it is safest to swim where there are lifeguards.
Young children need constant supervision around water, they can drown in less than 2 inches of water.
Cost of living
The cost of living affects us all, no matter what the weather. Keeping your home cool, by running several electric fans, for example, can lead to higher bills.
Keeping active and avoiding falls
Daily exercise is important to keep fit and well. Taking exercise each day, even just a walk out in the fresh air, helps you stay strong and healthy. It lowers your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Exercise has real benefits to your mental health, boosting your self-esteem and improving your sleep.
Exercise helps you to avoid falls, particularly exercise that builds strength and balance. Dudley Falls Prevention works to help older people avoid falls and with recovery following a fall. Anyone worried about their balance, mobility, or taking a fall can ask for help from the service. A telephone assessment can be arranged, or a home assessment from a specialist falls advisor. The service works closely with local hospitals and GPs.
During the summer, avoid or limit strenuous activity when it is very hot outside. Keep outdoor activity, such as sport, DIY or gardening, to cooler times of the day.
Manage your long-term conditions
It’s important that anyone living with a long-term health problem, such as COPD, heart problems or diabetes, learns to manage the condition. This is especially true during warmer weather. People can struggle in the heat, which can make symptoms worse.
Keep medicines below 25°C or in the fridge (read the storage instructions on the packaging).
Many prescription medicines can reduce people’s tolerance to heat. Keep taking your medicines and seek medical advice.
It’s always good to make sure you are keeping safe and independent at home. There’s lots of help on offer from our service Living Well Feeling Safe. The service offers free home safety and security advice and equipment. It is all provided from a home visit, or a telephone assessment if you prefer. They will also look at any adaptations, or support that will help keep you as independent as possible.
They also offer a self-serve online option. With this you can quickly and easily find equipment, aids and services to make things easier for your own circumstances. Purchasing items online is also an option.
Carers - look after yourselves
Keep safe and secure at home
It’s tempting during the summer to keep windows open. But remember to keep your home safe and secure. Window restrictors are a great solution, letting air in but keeping your home secure. Living Well Feeling Safe can give advice on these, as well as other gadgets and give support for keeping safe and independent at home.
If you are going on holiday or on long day trips, remember to keep your home looking occupied. Use timer switches, or ask neighbours to pop in to remove post or close curtains.
Look out for others
- Never leave anyone in a closed, stationary vehicle
- In periods of extreme heat make regular checks on people living alone, elderly, ill, vulnerable family, friends and neighbours and very young people, to make sure they are able to keep cool
- Be alert and call a doctor or support services if someone is unwell or further help is needed
Summer is a great time to enjoy a BBQ or picnic with family and friends. Stay safe and remember that warm weather and outdoor cooking can create the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow.
Food poisoning can be avoided by following good food hygiene practices. Avoid cross-contamination - most likely to happen when raw food touches or drips onto ready-to-eat food, utensils, or surfaces. Keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation and keep it chilled and out of the sun until serving.
If you have food left over, cover and cool cooked foods quickly at room temperature. Place them in a fridge or cool bag within one to two hours and consume within 48 hours. If you’re reheating anything, only reheat it once and make sure it’s piping hot before serving.
Find out more about food safety.
Reduce the risk of fires outside by putting out cigarettes and throwing rubbish away. Don't leave glass bottles lying on the ground - the sun's rays can be focused by the glass and can start a fire.
If you light up a barbeque or campfire, never use petrol or paraffin. Never leave them unattended and put them out properly after you have finished using them. Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies, and avoid having barbecues in parks and public spaces.
For more information on fire safety go to the West Midlands Fire Service.
Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill health.
It is important that vaccines are given on time for the best protection. To prepare your child for their admissions to school, college or university in September, make sure they are up to date with the vaccinations they need.
These include 4-in-1 preschool vaccines, the MMR vaccine and the MenACWY vaccine.
- Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest, usually between 11am and 3pm in the UK
- Avoid getting sunburnt - use sunscreen (at least factor 30) and cover up with suitable loose-fitting cotton clothing, a hat and sunglasses
- If driving, make sure your vehicle is well ventilated and take plenty of water with you
- If you live on your own ask someone to check up on you regularly during periods of extreme heat
- Keep cool and drink plenty of cold drinks and cut back on alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Eating cold foods like salads and fruit which have a higher water content can help you stay hydrated
- Keep your home cool – shade or cover windows in sunny rooms and keep the windows closed during the day. Open the windows when it is cooler outside. Turn off lights and electrical equipment when they are not in use
- Take cool baths or showers
- If you decide to take a swim outdoors to keep cool, make sure it’s a safe place to swim, look out for warning signs and hidden dangers
- If you feel unwell, dizzy, anxious or very thirsty or if you have painful muscle spasms when it is hot weather - rest immediately in a cool place, drink and cool down, use rehydration solutions if suitable. Get help if you still feel unwell
Stay informed about the weather
The UK is prone to extreme weather, from heavy rain to heatwaves. Keep up-to-date with weather and temperature updates on our severe weather page. We also have useful information on looking out for signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Visit the Met Office and check the weather forecast to help you plan ahead.
Download these posters listing top tips to keep well - for festival goers, children and adults.
Beat the heat poster produced by UK Health Security Agency with advice for heatwaves.