A new heat health alert comes into force at midday on Tuesday after warnings temperatures could soar to 36°C this week.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a level three alert – its second-highest level – across all regions of England until 11pm on Sunday.
The heat health system is designed to help healthcare professionals manage through periods of extreme temperature and acts as an early warning system for periods of high temperatures that may affect the public’s health.
A level three amber alert requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups, while a level four alert is reached when a heatwave is so severe and prolonged that its effects extend beyond the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.
It comes as the country faces another heatwave following last month’s record-breaking temperatures, with the UK recording its hottest day ever when temperatures hit 40.2°C on 19 July.
While this week’s hot spell is not expected to be as extreme, fire chiefs have warned of the risk of blazes in the tinder-dry conditions, with the lack of rain leaving grasslands parched and the Met Office predicting highs of 36°C on Saturday.
Fire services will not have enough firefighters to properly respond to incidents during this week’s heatwave, the Fire Brigades Union has warned, as services pleaded with the the public to “follow basic fire safety rules”.
Wildfires have continued to break out across the UK, with a huge fire in west London over the weekend forcing about 60 people to be evacuated from their homes.
Meanwhile, i understands that the Government could announce a drought this week, with officials monitoring water companies’ strategies to preserve supplies.
Millions of households have had hosepipe bans imposed as water firms restrict supply following the driest July since records began in 1836 in parts of southern England, with restrictions set to last until October.
Met Office figures show south east England has had 144 days with little or no rain, the longest dry spell in nearly 50 years.
Water usage could be further restricted if the hosepipe bans brought in by several water companies in England fail to combat the looming drought.
Modelling released by Southern Water revealed restrictions could remain for thousands of households until October as the company waits for river levels to refill following the prolonged dry spell.
Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UKHSA said: “Temperatures will feel very warm again this week, particularly in southern and central parts of the country.
“We want everyone to enjoy the warm weather safely when it arrives, but remember that heat can have a fast impact on health.
Dozens of residents were evacuated from their homes after a blaze broke out in Feltham, west London, over the wekeend (Photo: Ethan Cheesman/PA Wire)
“It’s important to ensure that people who are more vulnerable – elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions – are prepared for coping during the hot weather.
“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating.”
The Met Office says the heat is expected to peak on Friday and Saturday, with temperatures likely to rise into the low-to-mid 30s Celsius for central and southern areas of the UK.
What are heat health alerts?
A level one alert means that people “should be aware of what to do” in the event of extreme heat.
A level two alert directs social and healthcare services to “ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave”.
A level three alert requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups.
A level four alert – the highest – is reached when a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.
Last month was the driest July in England since 1935, with wildfires destroying or damaging dozens of homes in blazes on the outskirts of east London and Essex.
Greater London saw just eight per cent of its average rainfall for July, with hosepipe bans now being imposed on residents throughout the UK.
Southern Water imposed a Temporary Use Ban (TUB) in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight which started last Friday under which people cannot use hosepipes to water their garden or wash their cars.
South East Water has also announced a hosepipe and sprinkler ban for Kent and Sussex from this Friday as Britain faces a prolonged dry spell and “record demand”.
Welsh Water has also announced restrictions on water usage for homes in Pembrokeshire and parts of Carmathenshire from later this month.
More on Heatwave
Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Tony Wardle said: “Heatwave criteria look likely to be met for large areas of the UK later this week, with the hottest areas expected in central and southern England and Wales on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures could peak at 35°C, or even an isolated 36°C on Saturday.
“Elsewhere will see temperatures widely into the high 20s and low 30s Celsius later this week as temperatures build day-on-day through the week, due to an area of high pressure extending over much of the UK.
“Coupled with the high daytime temperatures will be continued warm nights, with the mercury expected to drop to only around low 20s Celsius for some areas in the south.”