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Staying Safe In High Temperatures

July 15, 2022
4 minute read

Temperatures across the UK are expected to be extreme over the next few days, with some of the warmest areas of the South East areas reaching highs of 35 degrees Celsius (91.4F).- and other parts of the country expected to reach highs of 32 degrees.  

Of course, we have all be yearning for those warmer and sunnier days. However, The UK Health Security Agency issued a level two alert for southern and central England - the first this year. and we must make sure we have provisions in place to ensure the comfort and safety of ourselves, our children and our colleagues. 

 So what can we do to ensure comfort and safety in our settings? 

Government Guidance 'Looking After Children And Those In Early Years Settings During Heatwaves: for teachers and professionals' states the following: 

Protecting children outdoors 

During periods of high temperature, the following steps should be taken: 

  • children should not take part in vigorous physical activity on very hot days, such as when temperatures are in excess of 30°C 
  • encourage children playing outdoors to stay in the shade as much as possible 
  • children should wear loose, light-coloured clothing to help keep cool and sunhats with wide brims to avoid sunburn 
  • use sunscreen (at least factor 15 with UVA protection) to protect skin if children are playing or taking lessons outdoors for more than 20 minutes 
  • provide children with plenty of water (such as water from a cold tap) and encourage them to drink more than usual when conditions are hot 

Protecting children indoors 

During periods of high temperature, the following steps should be taken: 

  • open windows as early as possible in the morning before children arrive, or preferably overnight to allow stored heat to escape from the building – it is important to check insurance conditions and the need for security if windows are to be left open overnight 
  • almost close windows when the outdoor air becomes warmer than the air indoors – this should help keep the heat out while allowing adequate ventilation 
  • use outdoor sun awnings if available, or close indoor blinds or curtains, but do not let them block window ventilation 
  • keep the use of electric lighting to a minimum 
  • switch off all electrical equipment, including computers, monitors and printers when not in use – equipment should not be left in ‘standby mode’ as this generates heat 
  • if possible, use those classrooms or other spaces which are less likely to overheat, and adjust the layout of teaching spaces to avoid direct sunlight on children 
  • oscillating mechanical fans can be used to increase air movement if temperatures are below 35°C – at temperatures above 35°C fans may not prevent heat-related illness and may worsen dehydration 
  • if necessary, consider rearranging school start, finish, and play times to avoid teaching during very hot conditions 
  • encourage children to eat normally and drink plenty of cool water 
  • keep checking the temperatures of the floors within your setting - encouraging children to keep shoes on their feet if the floor gets hot 
  • use cool flannels to wipe away sweat, and help to keep children cool, and to prevent heat rash, particularly in areas such as necks, between the legs, under the arms, elbow and knee bends, feet and in the nappy area 

For further information on reducing temperatures within school buildings and grounds see UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) Heatwave Plan for England

It is important, if children are staying at your setting, that you have adequate sun protection ie sun screen, hats, and shaded areas, as well as access to cool water and colder spaces to avoid ill health caused by the heat. Some settings are offering the families the chance to keep their children home for the day. 

Things to consider; 

  • allocation of staffing 
  • outdoor/free-flowing times 
  • staff dress codes, breaks and rest periods during the heat 
  • building ventilation 
  • access to water for staff, children and visitors 
  • what to do when you suspect a child or practitioner suffering heat stroke, sunburn or other heat related illness  
  • kitchen staff - additional heat from cookers, ventilation 
  • risk assessing outdoor play equipment for the heat 

Please see links below for further support in managing the high temperatures this weekend. 

Heat Health Alert 

Looking After Children During A Heatwave 

Red Cross Heatwave First Aid 

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