Heatwave: How to keep cats and dogs cool – and other questions

Girl next to fan

Girl next to fan

The UK could have its hottest day on record this week, with temperatures forecast to hit up to 41C (106F).

A selection of your questions have been answered by:

  • Michelle Roberts – BBC digital health editor

  • Pallab Ghosh – BBC science correspondent

  • Alice Evans – BBC education reporter

  • Emma Bartlett – Employment partner at CM Murray

  • Nikki Berry – BBC weather forecaster

Is there any merit to wearing a damp cloth around the neck to help keep the body cool? S. Wilson, 60, Nottingham

As well as drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, cooling your skin with water is a good idea if you are struggling with the heat.

When liquid evaporates from surfaces they cool them. You could use a cool wet sponge or flannel or a cool water spray.

Cold packs around the neck and armpits can also help. Do what feels comfortable for you.

Should schools close for the younger students during this extreme heat? Kelly Ng

Schools haven’t been ordered to close. Instead, the government has asked school leaders to take steps to make sure pupils stay safe and comfortable.

Government guidance issued for schools in England includes:

  • Giving children lots of water

  • Closing windows and blinds, as long as classrooms stay ventilated

  • Using mechanical fans

  • Watching out for signs of heatstroke and exhaustion

Other steps schools are taking include: relaxing uniform rules, handing out ice lollies and rescheduling sports days.

Some have decided to close early and others are choosing to close completely.

Cat drinking from a bowlCat drinking from a bowl

Pets should have constant access to fresh water

How can we keep our pets cool if we’re at work? Ella, 24, Nottingham

Just like humans, animals can suffer from heatstroke if exposed to hot temperatures for too long. The RSPCA says pets should never be left in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it’s just for a short while.

To keep them safe, the RSPCA says:

  • Make sure they have shade

  • Give them constant access to fresh water

  • Put ice cubes in their water bowl

  • Give them damp towels to lie on

Read more: How to keep pets cool in hot weather

My husband works on a golf course and is being made to use holiday because of the heatwave. Is this right? Rachael Mason

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended), an employer has the right to provide notice requiring a worker to take any holiday they have built up on specified dates.

The notice must be at least twice the length of the period of leave that the worker is being required to take. For example, if an employer wants the worker to take five days’ holiday, the employer must give at least 10 calendar days’ notice.

If it gets too hot at work, do my employers [have] any duties to keep me safe? Darren M Reynolds, Walsall

There is no maximum workplace temperature that requires employers to close.

But health-and-safety legislation requires they provide a safe working system and environment, which if too hot, may be unsafe.

If workers request an exceptional risk assessment, the employer can identify any necessary adjustments and may choose to close if these cannot be made quickly enough.

Read more: Heatwave: Can I refuse to work?

Will these temperatures be higher in built-up towns where the reflection of the sun is magnified off the windows of high-rise buildings? Derek

Large urban areas tend to be warmer because there is relatively little bare earth and vegetation and a high concentration of man-made materials which absorb heat, rather than reflect it.

This phenomenon is known as an urban heat island, and while heat generated by transport can contribute, the reflection of the sun off windows does not.

As London has the largest urban sprawl it tends to have record high temperatures.

What’s the outlook later on in July and into August? Is there any sign of it happening again before September? Tim Scott, 30, East Grinstead, West Sussex

There will be a considerable cool-down on Wednesday, with maximum temperatures falling by 10-15C compared with Tuesday.

It will still be warm across parts of the South and East through the remainder of July, with temperatures in the high 20s at times, above average, but there are no signs of a return of any major heat.

A warmer than normal August looks likely for the UK – but it is extremely unlikely we will see anything of the magnitude of this current hot spell.

Why is it taking longer for temperatures to cool down at the end of the day? And the hottest point of the day seems to be later now? Sarah B, Leamington Spa

In this current weather pattern, we have an extremely warm air mass pushing up from Spain.

Air masses are defined by the temperature and humidity in a layer 0.9 miles (1.5km) up in the atmosphere. The temperature at that height is expected to peak at about 21:00-22:00BST on Monday for much of England and Wales.

This is also why the temperature will not cool very quickly overnight on Monday and why we are likely to see potentially record-breaking overnight temperatures.

How are you coping with the hot weather? You can get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

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