‘Don't put lives at risk' : councils issue COVID-19 heatwave warning

People need to take all necessary health precautions as Britain looks set to bask in a heatwave and keep an eye on vulnerable or elderly family and friends - while maintaining social distancing – who are most at risk if they catch coronavirus.

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With good weather forecast, it is also likely that many members of the public will travel to beaches in England. The “rush to the sun” following easing of lockdown restrictions in recent weeks has become a serious challenge for councils responsible for beach safety.

The Local Government Association is calling for government to set out clear guidance for the public about visiting beaches and for fast-track government funding to help fund beach patrols, additional toilets and prominent signage, to improve safety at beach beauty spots.

People should think carefully before travelling to beaches and to get in the habit of checking they are open and safe to visit.

The LGA said councils have adapted their heatwave plans in keeping with COVID-19 advice.

As temperatures soar over the next few days, the LGA said social workers, community wardens and maintenance staff will be on high alert, identifying and looking out for those who might be struggling, while making sure social distancing measures are maintained.

They are also urging people to call their local council if they believe anyone needing help is being missed out. Older people and those suffering from heart and respiratory problems are most at risk.

Cllr Richard Kemp, Vice Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“No one is immune to the power of the sun. Hot weather advice might seem common sense but effective action, taken early, can reduce the health impacts of exposure to excessive heat.

“Looking around at how our older neighbours are coping takes no effort, but could be crucial in making sure they are also able to make the best of the summer

“People will understandably want to enjoy the sunshine. However, when large numbers of people head to the coast and tourist spots there is inevitably a risk of overcrowding and an increase in the rate at which COVID-19 could be transmitted.

“Lives depend on all of us taking personal responsibility for our actions to avoid a resurgence of this deadly virus that puts further lives at risk.”

Hot weather tips

  • Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions
  • Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • Drink plenty of water and take water with you, if you are travelling
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
  • Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes

Notes to editors

Following the 2003 heatwave in which more than 2,000 people in England died due to the extreme temperatures, the country has developed an annual heatwave plan with local authorities, health professionals and the emergency services working together to help keep people safe.