Health alert as Britain swelters

There were sweltering temperatures in parts of Britain today as the first heat-health alert of the summer came into force.

There were warnings that high humidity and a lack of breeze - even at night - could make life difficult for the elderly, young and those with underlying health problems.

Motoring organisations also warned drivers to give their vehicles a health check as breakdowns are likely to soar.

Temperatures recorded this afternoon placed Norwich as the hottest place in Britain with 30C (86F) recorded at its weather station.

Just behind was Writtle, in Essex, at 29.7C (85.5F).

St James' Park, in central London, and Gravesend, Kent, basked at 28.9C (84F).

Temperatures may go even higher across East Anglia and south-east England today and tomorrow but it is not the hot sunshine during the day that people need to be wary of, but roasting night-time temperatures of at least 20C (68F).

Wayne Elliott, head of health forecasting at the Met Office, said: "While there is the possibility of daytime temperatures reaching trigger thresholds, it is the night time values which are of real concern.

"High humidity and the lack of any breeze could make matters worse for people with underlying health problems."

The Met Office's heat warning is level 2 on its four level warning scale.

It relates to how likely temperatures will exceed "threshold" levels that trigger health concerns - typically 30C during the day and 15C at night.

The NHS advises to keep cool by wearing loose cotton clothes, spraying or splashing faces and the backs of necks with cold water several times a day and staying in the coolest rooms of the home as much as possible.

Windows should be kept closed when the room is cooler than it is outside.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK charity director, asked people with an older relative or neighbour to check that they are coping with the heatwave.

"Our bodies are less able to cope with hot weather as we get older so it is extremely important that older people take sensible precautions during a heatwave, particularly if they are on medication," she said.

"During successive hot days it is important that older people are able to cool down in the evening and at night."

She suggested older people may wish to stay indoors or in the shade, keep homes shaded and well-ventilated, drink more non-alcoholic drinks, take cool baths or showers and continue to eat to replace the salt lost through sweat.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) today urged people to take care if cooling off in rivers and lakes and, where possible, to swim at properly-supervised sites.

Accidental drownings tend to increase during hot spells and Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at Rospa, said: "River and lake swimming as part of a properly-organised activity is very different to the more ad hoc occasions when people take to the water to cool off, perhaps on the spur of the moment.

"If you choose not to go to a properly-supervised site, then think through the various hazards first and make sure you know what to do if anything goes wrong."

Breakdowns also increase in hot weather and the AA today reminded motorists to check their car's cooling system.

Steve Dewey, AA road operations director, said: "We tend to notice that for every degree above 23C, there is a noticeable increase in our breakdown workload, so very warm weather like this can sometimes double it.

"Overheating is a big risk, especially if you encounter any slow-moving traffic.

"If the worst happens and your car starts to overheat, turn on the air-conditioning and the heater up to full, then pull over," he said.

Drivers are also advised to carry drinking water, hats and sun cream in case of a breakdown.

The AA is putting on extra patrols especially on routes to the coast and to major events like the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, on Sunday.

The RAC said call-outs for reasons like running out of fuel and keys being locked in the car also increase when people are distracted as they plan a day out.

RAC Patrol Ambassador of the Year, Alan Wilcock, said: "I'd urge motorists travelling this weekend to ensure the journey is bearable for all passengers, especially children or pets.

"They may want to consider making their journey first thing in the morning or later at night when it is cooler, and less busy."

The RAC said no animal should be left in a car - even for a short period - on the warm day.

Chief forecaster at the Met Office Frank Saunders said there is a good chance of some places in East Anglia and south east England reaching 32C but it won't be hot everywhere with cloud and some rain expected over northern regions of the UK.

The north west of England, west Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be the coolest spots over the weekend, temperatures only reaching the high teens and low 20s.

The highest temperature reached so far this year was 30.9C (87.6F) in Gravesend, Kent, on June 27.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?