High temperatures both outdoors and indoors may harm children’s health. In the event of a heatwave alert, local authorities will be alerted by the Met Office, and the alert will be more widely publicised.
Schools are encouraged to sign up to receive Met Office weather alerts
Children’s susceptibility to high temperatures varies; those under four years of age, who are overweight, or who are taking certain medication may be at increased risk of adverse effects. Some children with disabilities or complex health needs may be more susceptible to high temperatures.
The school nurse, community health practitioner, family health visitor or the child’s specialist health professional may be able to advise on the particular needs of the individual child.
Please be aware of Public Health Guidance below:
What are the health risks from heat?
Children cannot control their body temperature as efficiently as adults during hot weather because they do not sweat as much and so can be at risk of ill-health from heat. Heat-related illness can range from mild heat stress to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. The main risk from heat is dehydration (not having enough water in the body).
If sensible precautions are taken children are unlikely to be adversely affected by hot conditions, however, teachers, assistants, school nurses and all child carers should look out for signs of heat stress, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Children suffering from heat stress may seem out of character, or show signs of discomfort and irritability (including those listed below for heat exhaustion). These signs will worsen with physical activity and if left untreated can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion
vary but include one or more of the following:
• hot, red and dry skin
When the body is exposed to very high temperatures, the mechanism that controls body temperature may stop working. Heatstroke can develop if heat stress or heat exhaustion is left untreated, but it can also occur suddenly and without warning.
Symptoms of heatstroke may include:
• high body temperature - a
temperature of or above 40°C (104°F) is a major sign of heatstroke
• red, hot skin and sweating
that then suddenly stops
• fast heartbeat
• fast shallow breathing
• confusion/lack of co-ordination
• loss of consciousness
Actions to protect children
Suffering from heat illness, the following steps to reduce body temperature should be taken immediately:
• move the child to as cool a room as possible and encourage them to drink cool water (such as water from a cold tap)
• cool the child as rapidly as possible, using whatever methods you can. For example, sponge or spray the child with cool (25 to 30°C) water; if available place cold packs around the neck and armpits, or wrap the child in a cool, wet sheet and assist cooling with a fan
Dial 999 to request an ambulance if the person doesn't respond to the above treatment within 30 minutes.
If a child loses consciousness, or has a fit, place the child in the recovery position, call 999 immediately and follow the steps above until medical assistance arrives.