Tips to help you stay cool in hot weather.

Homes can sometimes overheat during warmer weather, and occasionally in cooler months also. Even during a relatively cool summer 1 in 5 homes are likely to overheat. For many people, this makes life uncomfortable and sleeping difficult. Some people are particularly vulnerable to heat and for them a hot home can worsen existing health conditions or even kill.

The first part of this checklist helps you to identify if a home may be at risk of overheating and if occupants there may be at risk of ill health from overheating. The more factors that are present, the greater the risk is likely to be. The second part details how to reduce overheating and where to get help.

Please consider the following checklists to help identify suitable actions during a heatwave.

Homes more prone to overheating

  • Flats on the top floor.

  • Flats with opening windows on just one side.

  • Little shading (external or internal).

  • Large unshaded east, west or south-facing windows.

  • Located in a densely built-up urban area with little green space nearby.

  • Modern, very airtight, highly insulated or energy-efficient homes. Note: Making homes energy efficient has lots of health and other benefits, but care also needs to be taken to avoid overheating in summer.

  • Poorly insulated heating or hot water system.

  • Restricted opening of windows (for example, safety catch installed or unable to open them due to noise, pollution or fear of crime).

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

  • Older, especially over 75 years of age.

  • Children, especially under 4 years of age.

  • Live alone and/or socially isolated.

  • Long-term health condition (particularly heart and breathing problems).

  • On multiple medications.

  • Reduced mobility and/or ability to look after themselves.

  • Difficulty adapting their behaviour in warmer weather (for example, due to dementia or alcohol/drug misuse issues).

  • At home during the hottest part of the day (for example, small children or home workers).

What you could do now, before hot weather

  • Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight. External shutters or shades are very effective, internal blinds or curtains are less effective but cheaper and easier to install.

  • Check that windows or vents can be opened.

  • Check that the central heating system can be turned off.

  • If applicable, check mechanical ventilations systems are switched on and operating in summer mode.

  • Grow plants inside and outside to provide shade and help cool the air.

  • Check that fridges, freezers and fans are working properly.

  • Check medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging.

  • Find out if you are eligible for a home hazard assessment (see the list below).

  • If insulating or refurbishing your home, ask for advice about reducing overheating.

  • Consider overheating risk if buying or renting, particularly for vulnerable people.

Take action in hot weather

  • Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight, external shutters or shades are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective but cheaper and easier to install.

  • Take a break from the heat by moving to a cooler part of the house (especially for sleeping).

  • Remember that it may be cooler outside in the shade or in a public building (such as places of worship, local libraries or supermarkets); consider a visit as a way of cooling down.

  • Open windows (when it is safe to do so) when the air feels cooler outside than inside, for example, at night. Try to get air flowing through the home.

  • Check that central heating is turned off.

  • Turn off lights and electrical equipment that is not in use.

The top ways to stay safe when the heat arrives are to:

  • Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated. Older people, those with underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk.

  • If you live alone, ask a relative or friend to phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • Stay cool indoors: Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.

  • If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately.

  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol.

  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.

  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest.

  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat.

  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.

  • Make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling.

  • Check the latest weather forecast and temperature warnings – you can find these on TV, radio, mobile app or website.

  • During warm weather going for a swim can provide much welcomed relief, take care and follow local safety advice, if you are going into open water to cool down.

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot house that's affecting your health or someone else's, get medical advice.

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