Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 10:50 UK

Heatwave to continue until Friday


The tigers at the Isle of Wight zoo get a hosing down

The heatwave in parts of England and Wales is set to continue until Friday, although many areas of the UK will be hit by heavy downpours.

The Met Office's Heat-Health Watch is at Level 2 of four in some areas but that may be raised if certain criteria are met, to protect vulnerable people.

Tuesday was the hottest day of the year so far with a temperature of 31.8C (89.2F) recorded in Wisley, Surrey.

Unions are calling for more relaxed dress codes to help workers stay cool.

Meanwhile, the government has set up a heatwave advice page on its website.

Close curtains on windows exposed to sun if temperature outside is higher than inside
Open windows when temperature outside drops lower than it is inside
Water plants, and spray ground outside windows with water to help cool air
Those at risk should stay out of the sun, especially between 11am and 3pm
Source: Department of Health

Heatwave conditions are said to be reached when temperatures reach certain levels, with those levels varying for different parts of the country.

In north east England, for example, the heatwave threshold is 28C, while in London it is 32C.

Currently, the Met is advising that the probability of heatwave conditions in parts of England and Wales, between 1000 on Monday and 0900 on Friday, is 70%.

Hot and humid air is expected across England and Wales throughout the week, with heavy, thundery showers developing in north-eastern England and south-eastern Scotland on Wednesday.

On Thursday very heavy rain or thunderstorms are expected in many western areas.

Susan Powell, of the BBC Weather Centre, said it was possible that the heatwave watch level could be raised.

If the level is raised to Level 3, then high-risk groups like the elderly and infirm will be targeted for special care by health and social care professionals.

Wednesday is expected to see temperatures in the 30Cs again in large parts of central and eastern England, particularly East Anglia and south-east England.

There may be lower temperatures in other parts of the UK due to cloud and the threat of showers.

Ms Powell said that coastal areas in East Anglia, and in Kent and Essex, may be slightly cooler.

She said temperatures would drop by the weekend, but added that they would remain "above average".

St James's Park, London
Ice cream sales are soaring as the heatwave goes on

NHS Direct took 309 calls on Monday from people with symptoms caused by the high temperatures.

Meanwhile, a teenager struck by lightning while sheltering under a tree during a storm on Friday has died in hospital.

Mohammed Junaid Hussain, 17, from Birmingham, suffered a cardiac arrest and serious burns.

Five other boys who were also struck by lightning remain in hospital.

Meanwhile, the TUC said, where appropriate, staff should be encouraged to wear shorts to work to make conditions more bearable for them.

General secretary Brendan Barber said: "We'd like British bosses to think seriously this week about how they can make their workplaces cooler and their staff less overheated.

"Clearly vest tops and shorts are not suitable attire for all front line staff, but those not dealing with the public should be able to discard their tights, ties and suits and opt for more summery clothing this week."

In Scotland, four dogs have died after being left in hot cars in the Highlands.

The Scottish SPCA said two of the dead animals were found in the same vehicle in Inverness.

Zoos are also taking special measures to keep their animals cool.

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