A ‘Heat-Health Watch’ alert system operates in Wales from 1st of June to the 15th September each year. During this period, the Met Office may forecast severe heat warnings and heatwaves. The Heat–Health Watch system is based on four levels of response, based on daytime and night time temperatures, information from the Met Office about the levels, and our current status.
A heatwave is when the temperature stays unusually high for more than a couple of days. These high temperatures can make people ill, and for people with certain conditions it can result in death. To reduce this risk it’s mostly a matter of common sense. Listen to your local weather forecast so you know if a heatwave is on the way. Follow the advice below to reduce your risk of getting heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Protecting yourself from heatwaves
Stay out of the heat:
• Keep out of the sun between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
• Avoid extreme physical exertion.
• Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
• If you have to go out in the heat: walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.
Cool yourself down:
• Have plenty of cold drinks, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Eat cold foods, particularly salads and moist fruit.
• Take a cool shower, bath or body wash.
• Sprinkle water over your skin or clothing, or place a damp cloth on the back of your neck.
Keep your surroundings cool:
• Keep windows and curtains that are in the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
• Think about putting up external shading outside windows.
• Have your loft and cavity walls insulated – they keep the heat out too!
• Use pale, reflective external paints.
• Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment – as they generate heat.
• Grow trees and leafy plants to shade near windows.
• Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air.
• If possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping.
Look out for others:
• Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool.
• Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars.
• Check on elderly or sick neighbours, family or friends every day during a heatwave.
• Be alert and call a doctor or social services if someone is unwell or further help is needed.
In a severe heatwave you may get dehydrated and your body may overheat, leading to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Both need urgent treatment.
Who is most at risk?
The heat can affect everyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. These include:
• older people;
• babies and young children;
• people with mental health problems;
• people on certain medication (check with your GP);
• people with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems;
• people who already have a high temperature from an infection;
• people who use alcohol or illicit drugs;
• people with mobility problems;
• people who are physically active, like manual workers and sportsmen and women.
Read our Encyclopaedia topic Heat Exaustion and Heatstoke for more information.
Click here to read a leaflet 'A guide to looking after yourself and others during hot weather'.
Free UV SAFE card
We have UV Safe cards available to post out free of charge. The small wallet sized cards will indicate the level of sun exposure to warn against harmful UV rays. If you would like to receive a UV Safe Card please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org including your full name and address and we'll post one to you.