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How to stay well in hot weather


Advice on how to cope in hot weather and heatwaves, how to keep yourself and home cool, signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, and staying safe in water.

Who may be most at risk during hot weather

While many people enjoy the sunshine, for some hot weather can lead to serious health problems. Older people, people with long term conditions, young children and homeless people can be particularly vulnerable. 

How we respond to a Met Office heatwave alert

When the Met Office issues a heatwave warning this triggers the borough’s heatwave action plan. Teams across the council then follow plans to support and protect vulnerable people across the borough.

The impact of climate change means that summer heatwaves are now 30 times more likely than they were previously. It is therefore vital that everyone is aware of how to keep themselves and others safe in hot weather.

How to help others during hot weather

How to keep cool during hot weather

  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol and take water with you if you are travelling.
  • Familiarise yourself with the NHS tips on how to cope in hot weather.
  • Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when the UV rays are the strongest.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat and light scarf.
  • Avoid physical exertion during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
  • Take a cool shower, bath or body wash

How to keep your home cool during 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).
  • Check that fridges, freezers and fans are working properly (fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C). 
  • 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. You can visit one of the following libraries during their normal hours which all have air conditioning:

    - Blue Anchor Library
    - Canada Water Library
    - East Street Library
    - Grove Vale Library
    - Nunhead Library
    - Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library 

You can also visit our council offices at 160 Tooley Street, SE1, between 9am and 5pm, which are air conditioned.


Check you are storing medicines correctly

Make sure medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging.

Travelling on public transport during hot weather

The hot weather can also affect travel. TfL and National Rail issue travel alerts as trains may be running a reduced speeds. Please check before you travel and try to carry a bottle of water with you. You can find free water at thousands of locations with Refill London.

Water safety during hot weather

Take care and follow local safety advice if you are going into the water to cool down for example swimming in open water like the river or in docks. Going into the water might seem like a good idea in the hot weather but it is incredibly dangerous as the water is a lot colder than you’d expect. Cold water can cause your body to go into shock no matter how fit you are, causing:

  • panic
  • anxiety
  • disorientation
  • loss of control of your muscles.

These reactions can also cause you to gasp for air and breathe in water. Anything below 15°C is defined as cold water. On average the UK and Ireland sea temperatures are 12°C. Rivers such as the Thames are colder – even in the summer.

Where you can swim and enjoy water features in Southwark

Our leisure centres are open for safe swimming and some of our parks have water features for children to play in and cool off. Visit the webpages for more details:

Page last updated: 19 July 2022

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