Heatwave warning: Take these 8 steps to prepare for extreme heat – ‘national emergency

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The first ever red extreme heat warning has been issued by the Met Office, prompting health advice and contingency plans to help the UK cope as temperatures push 40C. Preparing for the “exceptionally hot spell” yourself is crucial to minimise the pressure on national services such as the NHS, but what exactly should you be doing before the intensified heatwave kicks in this weekend? Here are eight steps you should take to keep yourself and others safe in the heat.

Most of us welcome the warm weather, but it can become dangerous and in some cases, life-threatening when the temperature rises at a rapid rate.

According to the NHS, England experiences an average of 2000 heat-related deaths every year, many of which can be easily prevented.

Preparing for extreme heat is the best way to make sure you are well-equipped both in and out of the home, but it’s not just your health that you need to consider.

Checking on pets, those close to you, and keeping your property comfortable should also be a priority in the hot weather, but what do you need to do to stay safe?

How to prepare for extreme heat in the home

Staying in a cool, shaded environment is the best way to prevent heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related illness, and there are a few ways to do this in the comfort of your own home.

Check fans and air conditioning units

Give your fans and AC units a once-over to avoid being left in the lurch in the middle of the heatwave.

Cleaning off dust and filters will improve their performance while preventing dust from being spread around your home.

Keep windows and curtains closed

Blocking the heat of the sun is the best way to cool down your home quickly, so keep curtains closed and only open windows in the coolest parts of the day (early morning and late evening).

Stock up on ice and water

Water shortages are a serious problem in periods of extreme heat, so stock up on bottled supplies in case of a fault in your water supply.

Stocking up on ice is also a good idea, but there’s no need to take it all from the shelves – one or two bags per household will do.

How to stay healthy in a heatwave

Drink plenty of fluids

Hydration is essential for your health, especially in hot weather.

Even if you’re not thirsty, it is important to replenish lost fluids regularly throughout the day – you will lose more than you realise.

It is important to take water everywhere you go in periods of extreme weather to avoid the dangerous consequences of dehydration.

The British Red Cross said: “An average person needs to drink about three-quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, though certain medical conditions and medications may mean you need to drink more water.”

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Eat less, more often

In general, eating meals and snacks throughout the day with adequate water intake is enough to maintain electrolytes and replace salt lost when you sweat, though you should avoid sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks as much as possible.

Try to stick to nutrient-packed foods and avoid empty carbohydrates to maintain your energy levels.

Buy more sun cream

Sun cream should be worn at all times when you are exposed to natural light on a hot day, but it can quickly fly off the shelves when there is an increased demand.

Buy a few bottles of factor 50 sun lotion and lather it on whenever you go outside during the heatwave.

How to protect your pets in hot weather

Re-think walking your dog

Official advice from Vetsnow states most dogs are safe to walk outside as long as the temperature is below 20C, though anything above this means you should keep them at home in the shade.

Always do the ‘five-second test’ if you are unsure whether it is too hot to walk your dog on the pavement.

Simply place your palm flat on the ground for five seconds – as the RSPCA says: “If it is too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for paws”.

Hydrate your pets

Cats, dogs, and even rabbits can all suffer in the heat, so it is important to leave them plenty of shade and water to enjoy in the “exceptionally” warm weather.

Replace the water regularly and use deeper bowls – shallow containers will quickly dry up when left in direct sunlight.

Cold mats, wet towels, and ice packs can all be used to keep pets cool, but try to avoid using anything extremely ice cold on an overly hot pet. The temperature difference can be harmful if you try to cool them down too quickly.

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