Hot weather advice
Hot weather can cause heat exhaustion in people and animals. Also, bacteria on food and rubbish develop more quickly in the heat. Find out how to stay safe around the home in hot weather, including keeping cool and taking extra care with food and waste.
Looking after your health in hot weather
Summer temperatures in Northern Ireland can be a risk to health.
It is important to make sure you and those you care for are suitably hydrated.
In a heatwave, you may get dehydrated and your body may overheat. This can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which both need urgent treatment. Heatstroke can cause serious damage to your body or even death.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
If you think you have heat exhaustion, you should move somewhere cool and drink plenty of water. If you can, take a lukewarm shower or sponge yourself down with cold water.
If heat exhaustion is untreated, you could develop heatstroke. Heatstroke can also occur suddenly and without any warning.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- intense thirst
- hot, red and dry skin
- a sudden rise in temperature
- loss of consciousness
If you have these symptoms during a heatwave, rest for a few hours, keep cool and drink water. If the symptoms don’t go away or get worse, seek medical advice.
Heatstroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly and may lead very quickly to unconsciousness.
If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 immediately.
While waiting for the ambulance:
- move the person somewhere cooler if possible
- increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan
- cool them down as quickly as possible by loosening their clothes, sprinkling them with cold water or wrapping them in a damp sheet
- if they are conscious, give them water to drink
- don't give them aspirin or paracetamol
People at risk during hot weather
Heat can affect anyone, but some people are at greater risk of serious harm from the effects of extreme heat. These include:
- older people, especially those over 75 years of age
- babies and young children
- people with mental health problems
- people on certain types of medication – ask your doctor if you are at risk
- people with a chronic health condition such as breathing or heart problems
- people who already have a high temperature from an infection
- people who misuse alcohol or use illegal drugs
- people with mobility problems
- people who are physically active such as manual workers or sportspeople
If anyone you know is likely to be at risk during a heatwave, help them to get the advice and support they need.
Older people living on their own should be visited daily to check they are well.
What to do in hot weather
You can take steps to protect yourself and others from the effects of very hot weather.
Check the weather forecast so you know if a heatwave is on the way and plan ahead to reduce the risk of ill-health from the heat.
Keep out of the heat
- plan your day so that you can stay out of the heat when possible
- try to stay out of the sun, particularly when it is at its highest between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm
- do strenuous outdoor activities, like sports, DIY or gardening during cooler parts of the day
- stock up on supplies like medicines, food and non-alcoholic drinks, so you won’t have to go out in the heat
- if you must go out, stay in the shade and wear a hat and loose-fitting cotton clothes
- use a sun cream with a high sun protection factor - also known as 'SPF' - for protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation - SPF 15 or greater is advised with a UVA Rating of at least 4 stars
- don't leave babies or children in a parked car
For more information go to:
Keep you and your house cool
In hot weather, stay inside the coolest rooms in your house as much as possible. These are probably the rooms that get little sun during the day. To help keep all rooms in your house cool, you can:
- close pale-coloured curtains
- take care with metal blinds and dark curtains as they absorb heat - consider replacing them or putting reflective material in between them and the window
- keep windows closed when it’s hotter outside than inside, but open them if the room gets too hot
- open windows at night when the air is cooler, but close ground floor windows when you leave the house or go to bed
- place a thermometer in your main living room and bedroom to keep a check on the temperature
- turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment - they generate heat
- keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps keep cool the air
- take cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, especially your face and the back of your neck
- drink regularly even if you do not feel thirsty – water or fruit juice are best
- try to avoid alcohol, tea and coffee as these can cause dehydration
- avoid heavy and hot food; fruit and salads can help keep you hydrated
Take extra care with food in hot weather
When it’s hot, bacteria on food can multiply very quickly, which increases the risk of food poisoning.
Find more advice on keeping food safe in the hot weather at:
Take care with bins and waste
Bins and waste can attract flies and start to smell in the heat, so make sure you:
- recycle as much as possible to reduce waste
- move bins out of direct sunlight and keep their lids closed at all times to prevent access by flies or rodents
- use bio-degradable bags recommended by your council for food waste and squeeze the air out of the top of the bags before you tie them then place them in your food waste or garden waste bin
- bag nappies before placing in your waste bin
- wash and/ or disinfect waste containers regularly, both inside and out but remember to rinse off any cleaning chemicals afterwards to prevent yourself or council workers being splashed by the chemicals
For more information about bin and waste collection and recycling, contact your local council.
Looking after pets
You must also take care of pets and other animals during warm weather. Make sure they have plenty of ventilation and liquid to stay hydrated.
Never leave animals inside a car on a hot day and make sure they have:
- plenty of clean, fresh water to drink
- a cool and shady place to rest
It’s also important to cover pet food dishes to prevent flies laying eggs on the food.
Contact a vet if you are worried that an animal is suffering from heatstroke.
More information about looking after pets in hot weather is on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) website.
During hot and dry weather, avoid bonfires and be extra careful with barbecues. Dry ground in the summer increases the risk of fire.