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Britain is bracing for another week of sweltering temperatures as experts announce a Level 3 Heat Health Alert will come into effect from midday today – with little rain expected to help relieve the threat of drought which has prompted hosepipe bans and fire warnings.
Families enjoying the summer holidays are set for sizzling heat on Tuesday as temperatures are expected to reach 27C (81F) in the capital, while forecasters predict the mercury will reach 28C (82F) in Southampton and a balmy 26C (79F) in Exeter.
The Met Office said temperatures are likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts of the UK later by Thursday – but will not be as extreme as the record-breaking heat in July when the thermometer climbed above 40C.
The UK Health Security Agency has issued a Level 3 Heat Health Alert for southern and central England from midday today until Saturday 13 August – and warns Britons to ‘look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions’.
It also urges people to ‘close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors’, and ‘drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot’.
Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss, meanwhile, has weighed in after two water companies announced hosepipe bans and others warned they may need to follow suit, following the driest eight months from November to June since 1976 as well as the driest July on record for parts of southern and eastern England.
A dried up lake in Wanstead Park, north east London was pictured on Monday, as Britain braces itself for another heatwave
Pictured: Families enjoying their summer holiday enjoy the warm climes at Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, Cornwall
Pictured: Sunbseekers make the most of sunny weather at Porthgwidden Beach in St Ives, Cornwall yesterday morning
Ms Truss said: ‘My view is that we should be tougher on the water companies and that there hasn’t been enough action to deal with these leaky pipes which have been there for years.
‘I have a lot of issues with my water company in Norfolk, which is a particularly dry area of the country, and those companies need to be held to account.’
She told the Daily Express hosepipe bans ‘should be a last resort’, adding: ‘What I’m worried about is it seems to be a first resort rather than the water companies dealing with the leaks.’
Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UK Health Security Agency (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.
‘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.’
Dry earth on the banks of Grafham Water near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, where water is receding during the drought
Fire Fighters rushed to Ludwell Valley near the centre of Exeter after a fire took hold over the weekend. The fire ripped through the grass lands, stopping merely meters away from residential houses
Heatwave thresholds – which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country – are likely to be hit in much of the UK.
Outside the hottest areas, much of England and Wales and south-east Scotland could see temperatures widely in the high 20s, with a chance of a few spots seeing temperatures into the low 30s, the Met Office said.
Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures in the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday, the forecasters said.
With the latest heatwave coming after months of low rain, which have left the countryside and urban parks and gardens tinder-dry, households in some areas are being urged not to light fires or have barbecues.
The Met Office’s fire severity index (FSI), an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach ‘exceptional’ for a swathe of England by the weekend.
Scientists warn that the likelihood of droughts occurring is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.
Climate change is also making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely – with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming, and ‘virtually impossible’ without it, research shows.