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  • Writer's pictureThe British Polio Fellowship

How to cope in hot weather

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

The Met Office has issued its highest warning for Monday and Tuesday, meaning temperatures could hit 40°C and there is a risk to life. This red extreme heat warning covers an area which includes London, Manchester and York.

Even before then, the forecast over the weekend in some parts of the UK is of temperatures likely to reach or exceed 35°C. The amber warning is across most of England on Sunday and all of England, Wales and the south of Scotland on Monday and Tuesday.

Generally, most people welcome sunny weather but hot weather bring health risks, not just to those most vulnerable to extreme heat but also to the fit and healthy, leading to serious illness or danger to life. That's why the British Polio Fellowship is advising everyone to make sure they take extra precautions.

Kripen Dhrona, Chief Executive Officer at The British Polio Fellowship asked "Please help and support vulnerable people before and during a heatwave."

Polio survivors and people with a disability in particularly, should take extra care when moving around, because heat fatigue may increase the risk of falls. If possible, they should stay cool, indoors and minimise their activity. If experiencing swollen legs, then keep the feet raised.

"Be kind to yourself and accept you do have needs that require special care. It is so very hot, so give yourself permission to slow down and do what needs to be done, like dealing with your orthotics" commented a Fellowship Trustee and polio survivor.

The main risks are to older people and those with health conditions are dehydration (not drinking enough water), overheating (which cause extra problems for people with heart or breathing issues), heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

As the body gets hotter, blood vessels open up and blood pressure lowers, making the heart work harder to push the blood around the body. This can cause mild symptoms such as swollen feet, but sweating also leads to the loss of fluids and salt. This is why it is important to keep drinking.

How can you cope in the hot weather?:

  • drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeine and excess alcohol

  • close the curtains on rooms that face the sun, to keep indoor spaces cooler (if its hotter indoors than outdoors go outside)

  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 6pm

  • wear loose clothing that allows the air to circulate around you

  • if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat

  • if you are travelling, make sure you take water with you

Useful links to more information:

NHS: Heatwave - how to cope in hot weather (who is most at risk, tips, and what signs to watch out for with heat related illness)

Photo by George Chandrinos on Unsplash


  • The ice fan - Place a bowl of icy water in front of the electric fan. As the ice evaporates, it will make the air feel pleasantly cool.

  • Cold hot water bottle - Fill your water bottle with cold water and then stick it in the freezer. You’ll have your homemade ice pack ready for when you need it most.

  • Freezer quick fix - Try placing your sheets in the freezer for a couple of minutes before you’re about to go to bed. But put them in a plastic bag first! You don’t want your bed to smell like a frozen pizza.

  • Cotton sheets - keep away from silk or satin sheets, go for light coloured cotton sheets. You could also try placing a dry towel under a damp sheet. No one likes wet bedding!

  • Hang a wet sheet - Hanging a wet sheet in front of the window will actually help to bring the rooms temperate down.

  • Ditch the roast dinner - Try and avoid dishing up hot meals whilst the weather is so hot. Have a nice salad that you can enjoy over al-fresco dining.

  • Avoid getting steamy - If you’re showering later on in the evening whilst it’s a little cooler make sure the water is tepid rather than hot. Steam causes humidity, so try cut down on the use of the washing machine and dishwasher too.

  • No lights - Turn off the lights because light bulbs (even if they are environmentally friendly) give off heat.

  • Turn off the tech - Your electrical appliances radiate heat which won’t help when you’re trying to sleep in this weather. Unplug your phone and devices and don’t be tempted to charge them overnight unless you absolutely have to.

  • Sleep downstairs - If you’re really struggling to sleep, downstairs might be the best place for you. Hot air rises, so sleeping in a room on the ground floor means you’ll feel cooler.

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