13 Jul 2013

Hottest day of the year – but no pleasing some

After months of complaints about bad weather, Britain welcomes the hottest day of the year so far with heatwave warnings and advice on how to stay cool.

Sunbathers in west Wales

It’s sunny! And it’s been sunny for days! After last year’s wash-out summer and (what certainly felt like) the longest winter of all time, you would expect the nation to be cheery about the balmy summer temperatures.

But there are still plenty putting a damp squib on the heat – and not just by uttering the famously British phrase: “Ooh, I like it hot, but not this hot.”

Click here for the Channel 4 Weather forecast for the next few days

Some on Twitter even resorted to sitting in fridges to cope with the heatwave – which officially became the best so far this year when temperatures at Heathrow Airport reached 30C for the first time in 2013.

But there’s a serious side to warnings about the heatwave too, with health authorities warning it could be dangerous.

A warning issued by the Met Office has been escalated to a level three alert for Yorkshire and the Humber after temperatures have already reached heatwave conditions.

Level two alerts are in place across most of England preparing the public for the possibility of heatwave conditions, which it says can have a significant impact on health. Pollen counts are also high, bringing misery for hayfever sufferers.

“Heatwaves can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases,” the alert said.

A spokesman for Public Health England (PHE) said: “Level two alerts are triggered as soon as the Met Office forecasts that there is a 60 per cent chance of temperatures being high enough on at least two consecutive days to have a significant effect on health.

“This will normally happen two to three days before a heatwave is expected to occur. As most deaths occur in the first two days, this is an important stage at which to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave.”

Dr Angie Bone, head of the PHE’s Heatwave Plan, said: “Everyone can enjoy the sun safely by keeping out of the heat at the hottest time of the day, avoiding sunburn and staying hydrated with plenty of cool drinks.

“The elderly and those with long-term illnesses are particularly vulnerable to the effects of very hot weather, so it’s important to look out for them and keep indoor areas as cool as possible.”

Swimming warnings

Emergency services personnel warned against the temptation to cool down in the current hot spell by swimming in open waters after three people died in the West Midlands in the last week.

However, others clearly enjoyed the sun as retailers reported rocketing sales because of the baking conditions.

Asda said sales of barbecues soared by 204 per cent in the last two weeks.

Asda said sales of barbecues soared by 204 per cent in the last two weeks, plus charcoal and fuel were up 176 per cent.

The supermarket also said shoppers were keen to cool off with paddling pool sales up 446 per cent and sales of garden furniture blossoming 44 per cent as Britons dine al fresco.

And for those who are enjoying the sunshine, there’s good news. Temperatures are set to remain in the high 20s for much of the next week. For more detailed weather forecasts, follow Channel 4 News Weather Presenter Liam Dutton on Twitter @liamdutton.