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We may joke about the weather in Scotland, but heat is a real risk that can affect anyone.

Hot weather can cause heatstroke and heat exhaustion, with serious consequences if not treated quickly. Being exposed to the sun for too long can also cause painful sunburn. Here are the Ready Scotland tips on how to stay safe in hot weather.

What Can I Do?

  • Be prepared for the weather, whatever it might be. Check the weather forecast;
  • NHS Inform provide useful advice on summer health including recognising and treating heatstroke and heat exhaustion;
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid excess alcohol. Your Water Your Life has useful information on staying hydrated;
  • Be mindful of any water scarcity or drought forecasts. These are supplied by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
  • It's important to use water wisely, particularly during the summer months. Water is Always Worth Saving has lots of advice on how to help protect this precious resource and make small changes to save water and energy.
  • Look out for neighbours or relatives who may be at risk during a heatwave, trying to visit them daily and ensuring they have the support they need.
  • Be mindful and check bathing water quality and water scarcity information. These are both supplied by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

At Home

  • Try to keep your house cool - closing blinds or curtains can help;
  • At night, keep your sleeping area well ventilated. Night cooling is important as it allows the body to recuperate;
  • Babies and young children can become ill during very hot weather so follow advice from Children’s Health Scotland
  • Follow advice from Blue Cross to keep your pets safe in hot weather;
  • Stay cool by taking cool showers or baths.

Out and About

  • Never leave children or animals in parked cars. Even on cool days, strong sunshine can make car interiors very hot;
  • Wildfires can spread quickly, change direction without warning and post a threat to life. Before lighting any outdoor fire, check for any restrictions or if any permits are required;
  • Avoid sun damage to your skin by avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm. If you have to go out, stay in the shade when possible, protect your skin using sunscreen of at least Factor 30 and wear a hat, sunglasses and light-coloured loose-fitting clothes;
  • Avoid too much exercise which can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and watch for signs of heat stress - an early one is fatigue;
  • Avoid pollution, especially if you suffer from a breathing or heart condition. You may benefit from registering with the free Know and Respond Scotland service which provides text alerts when the air quality is poor, accompanied by targeted health advice;
  • If you want to go swimming, it is best to go to a properly supervised site with lifeguards such as a beach, lido or swimming pool;
  • Reservoirs, rivers and lochs might appear inviting for a quick cool down but there are many hidden dangers such as strong currents and cold water shock with consequences that can be fatal – Water Safety Scotland has more information;
  • Avoid open water that appears green, blue-green or greenish brown, or where there are warning notices for blue-green algae in place. Don’t let dogs swim there;
  • Coronavirus is still a serious risk. Be considerate and keep your distance in public spaces.
  • Follow good hand hygiene precautions to prevent infections from food or animals.
  • If you want to go swimming, it’s best to use a properly supervised site with lifeguards such as a beach, lido or swimming pool. Also make sure you check SEPA's bathing waters pages for the most recent water quality or real-time predictions where available, and generally avoid swimming after heavy rainfall as this could lead to an increase in harmful bacteria entering the water from agricultural land or sewage systems.

More Information

  • The definition of a heatwave in Scotland is when a location records a period of at least three consecutive days with maximum temperatures above 25°C, however impacts from heat can be felt for periods shorter than this. The Met Office provide further details and advice.
  • NHS Inform has more information about staying safe and healthy during summer.

Stay Informed

Ready Scotland regularly publishes alerts on both Twitter and Facebook. Follow and like our pages to keep up to date wherever you are.