Protecting yourself and your community in a heatwave  

New Senior Project Officer Alice Moorcroft-Hughes brings specialist advice on heatwave precautions now the Summer is fixed to warm up.

As summer holidays begin and we turn our attention to our long-ignored BBQs and patio furniture it is worth remembering that behind the sunshine, there is a more dangerous element at play

Before the summer of 2022 most of us reserved the feeling of prolonged hot weather to our summer holidays abroad however the UK is set to continue to face these record-breaking temperatures in the years to come.  While heat itself is a divisive topic, some loving it and others spending the summer months seeking the cooling respite of the shade, we will need to re-evaluate how we protect ourselves and others as prolonged heat of 30 degrees and more is here to stay.  

For communities, heatwaves are opportunities to come together and support each other and society. As a starting point, you can reduce your need for the emergency services by first keeping yourself safe. This involves keeping hydrated, avoiding the hottest part of the day where possible, cooling your home by keeping curtains and windows closed and taking other heat precautions such a using a handheld fan. To help further you could support and engage community efforts to prepare for and withstand the heatwaves we are likely to face this year and beyond.

This could include: 

  • Monitoring and sharing the weather forecasts so you and your community are up to date with the heat alerts and warnings. The more you know, the more you can be prepared.  
  • Keeping water with you and setting up a cool water stations in your community spaces. Also don’t forget our 4-legged friends and offer them some water as well.  
  • Activating a cool space that can offer respite from the heat for people, such as a community hall. You could also consider working in partnership with a business who is able to support. 
  • Limiting your exposure in the hottest parts of the day wherever possible and make sure you consider these timings when planning community events or activities.  
  • Checking in on those most vulnerable in the heat such as your elderly neighbours, the medically vulnerable or people who are homeless. You could also consider engaging with a charity to further support.  
  • Making sure your community knows how to safely use water spaces to keep cool, such as the sea, a river or lake and consider running water safety initiatives to support this.  
  • Incorporating heatwaves into your community emergency plan or developing a heatwave specific plan so that you can act collectively and quickly. 

Once the summer months have passed and we start to feel the respite of the cooler and wetter autumnal days, 30 degrees or above may feel like a distant memory. Our preparations for heatwaves do not need to stop. Maintaining momentum for preparedness all year round will help your community in the long term. Perhaps consider incorporating designated heat shade areas within any community garden projects.  Consider running heatwave awareness initiatives all year round and keep looking ahead and preparing for the hot times to come. Capture summer reflections so you can share learnings and experiences, so people are able to make any adjustments ahead of the next time. Also consider running heat first aid courses as part of wider community initiatives and training moments.  

Whether you love or hate the heat, being heat safe is critical for both you and your community. Treating heat with respect and recognising the dangers it can bring is a starting point for this. Communities Prepared will be launching more detailed heat focused resources in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above areas in more detail, please feel free to get in touch.   

For more information or advice about heatwaves, please check out:

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