12 October 2023


Photo: Tim Jones



Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s very hot there are health risks. The very young, and the elderly are particularly at risk. Very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.

The Meterological Office has a warning system that issues alerts if a heatwave is likely. The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable and reducing health risks:

  • Take notice of alerts on the radio, TV and advice about keeping cool.
  • Visit or phone people who are less able to look after themselves, such as older neighbours, relatives and friends, and people with health conditions or mobility problems.
  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day).
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • If you go outside wear sunglasses, a hat and suitable light loose fitting clothing and apply suncream.

MET Office Seasonal advice: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice

NHS advice for heat exhaustion and heatstroke: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/

NHS advice on sunscreen and sun safety: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/

AGE UK – how to keep cool in a heatwave: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/staying-cool-in-a-heatwave/

MET Office advice for sunburn: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/health-wellbeing/uv/sunburn

UV & Sun health: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/health-wellbeing/uv/uv-and-sun-health 

How UV can affect your eyes: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/health-wellbeing/uv/how-uv-can-affect-your-eyes


This checklist will help you to identify if a home may be at risk of overheating and how to reduce this risk.

While we all look forward to the hot weather, homes can sometimes overheat (become uncomfortably hot). Everyone’s health can be at risk during periods of hot weather but some people are particularly vulnerable to heat. A hot home can worsen existing health conditions and can be fatal.

Homes more likely to overheat

Homes that can sometimes overheat during warmer weather include:

  • flats on the top floor because heat rises
  • homes with opening windows on just one side of the property, as this means there is less ventilation through the home
  • homes with little shading from the sun either externally, for example no shutters or shades, or internally, for example no curtains or blinds
  • large east, west or south-facing windows which do not have shade from the sun (for example external shutters or internal curtain and blinds)
  • homes located in a densely built-up urban area with little green space nearby as these areas may experience even hotter temperatures
  • some highly insulated or energy-efficient homes may trap heat inside. Making homes energy efficient has lots of health and other benefits but care needs to be taken to avoid overheating in the summer
  • homes with low efficiency appliances that release excess heat, such as poorly insulated hot water systems
  • homes with restricted opening of windows, for example if there is a safety catch installed

Residents who may be at higher risk of ill health from overheating

There are lots of reasons why some people might be at higher risk of becoming unwell in hot weather, including:

  • older, especially aged 65 years and over (note change from previous guidance of aged 75 years and above)
  • children, especially aged 5 and under 5
  • people who live alone and/or are socially isolated
  • people with long-term health conditions (particularly heart and breathing problems)
  • people taking certain medications
  • people who need the assistance of others for their routine activities
  • people with difficulty adapting their behaviour in warmer weather (for example, due to dementia, mental health issues or alcohol/recreational drug use)
  • people who are at home during the hottest part of the day (for example, small children or home workers)

Things you can do to prepare your home for hot weather

We often get some warning when a period of hot weather is coming, and it is always helpful to plan for every summer period. There are things you can do to prepare for and reduce the risk of your home overheating during hot weather:

  1. Consider installing internal blinds or curtains, or external shutters, roller blinds or awnings are also very effective.
  2. If you have a ventilation system in your home, check this is switched on and operating in ‘summer mode’ if it has one.
  3. Check that fridges, freezers, and fans are working properly, for example by checking that your food is remaining cold or frozen.
  4. Check medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging.
  5. If insulating or refurbishing your home, ask installers for advice about reducing overheating.
  6. Growing plants outside can provide shade, which may be particularly helpful in front of south-facing windows, while plants inside may help cool the air.

Things you can do in your home during hot weather

When the hot weather arrives there are several quick and easy steps that we can all take to reduce heat in the home:

  1. If possible, shade or cover windows.
  2. Open windows (when it is safe to do so) when the air feels cooler outside, for example at night, and try to get air flowing through the home.
  3. Use electric fans if the air temperature is below 35°C, but do not aim the fan directly at your body as this can lead to dehydration.
  4. Check that your heating is turned off.
  5. To reduce heat generated in the home, turn off lights and electrical equipment that are not in use and consider cooking at cooler times of the day.
  6. Move to a cooler part of the house, especially for sleeping if possible.
  7. It may be cooler outside in the shade or in a public building (such as places of worship, local libraries, or supermarkets) so consider a visit as a way of cooling down if you are able to safely travel there without putting yourself at more risk from the heat.

Top tips to keep your pets safe in hot weather

Like us, our pets are also vulnerable to heat-related problems and illnesses, the British Veterinary Association has some top tips on how to keep our pets safe in hot weather:

  • Make sure all pets always have access to fresh water to drink, adequate ventilation, and shade from direct sunlight
  • Don’t exercise dogs in the hottest parts of the day, especially older pets, flat-faced breeds or dogs with known heart or lung problems. Stick to early morning or late evening walks.
  • Do the five-second tarmac test before taking a dog out for a walk; if it feels too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • Freeze plastic bottles of water and place them in your rabbit’s enclosure to help them stay cool, alongside plenty of fresh water too. Lightly misting rabbits’ ears with cold water is also an effective way to help cool them if this doesn’t cause them stress. You can provide extra shade to guinea pigs and rabbits by covering the top of wire mesh runs with damp towels.
  • Some breeds of cats and dogs, particularly those with lighter-coloured or finer fur, may benefit from pet-safe sun cream, especially on the ear tips, which are prone to sunburn.
  • Spare a thought for wild animals. Keep out bowls of water for wildlife such as birds and hedgehogs.
  • Watch out for early signs of heatstroke, such as heavy panting, restlessness and lack of coordination.
  • Contact a vet immediately if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.
A friendly, vibrant, forward-thinking village in the South East corner of the county of Powys. We are surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Brecon Beacons National Park. 
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