Southend-on-Sea City Council is reminding residents to stay cool and hydrated to cope with future heat waves and to avoid heat stress.
Heat stress, as defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), occurs when the body's means of controlling its internal temperature starts to fail.
Densely populated urban areas like Southend experience greater heat stress than rural areas due to high levels of concrete and asphalt surfaces which absorb heat, and buildings close to each other can also trap heat.
Heat stress can lead to more health issues for vulnerable and elderly people, those with underlying health problems and young children. People experiencing high levels of deprivation are also at increased risk of experiencing heat stress.
Cllr Meg Davidson, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, said: “As a tourist destination, we are used to thinking of sunny summer weather as a good thing, but very hot weather can also bring problems, especially for our elderly residents and people with certain health conditions.
“In terms of staying safe and avoiding heat stress, the advice is: drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen and cover up in the sun, take rest breaks if you are out and about, and stay in the shade between 11 am and 3 pm. Southend has an abundance of trees in its Green Flag award-winning parks and open spaces - ideal for staying cool and protected in the shade.”
The Southend Cool Spaces interactive map highlights public cooling spots for the hot weather across the city. You can find all the water refill points, publicly available indoor cool spaces, such as libraries and museums, and cooler areas including parks and tree cover on this map.
The council is also encouraging local businesses and residents to help the city become a ‘refill destination’ by providing greater access to drinking water. Southend now features on the City to Sea refill app which connects people to places that provide free access to drinking water so that we can all stay hydrated and cool when extreme weather occurs. Sign up today and help Southend stay cool and hydrated.
Jo Gay, head of climate change at the council, added: “Encouraging local businesses and residents to help our city become a refill destination will make it easier to get access to drinking water and stay hydrated. It's also another big step towards Southend achieving its status as a net zero city by promoting the use of reusable plastics but we need residents and businesses to sign up to the Refill scheme to make it a success.”