A heatwave has hit rubbish collection services in London as ambulances were put on high alert and forecasters said temperatures are likely to top 35C in the capital early next week.
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has announced delays in waste collection this week as many Londoners struggle to cope with the hot weather.
The Met Office has already issued an updated “amber” extreme heat warning covering Sunday and Monday for much of England and Wales.
Exceptionally high temperatures are set to peak on Monday, with parts of the south-east of the UK seeing them climb above 35C and locally into the low 30s. High temperatures could last until Tuesday, the Met Office said.
There is around a 30 per cent chance the current heat record – of 38.7C set in Cambridge in 2019 – will be broken.
The Met Office’s extreme heat warning says there could be a potential danger to life or serious illness, with adverse health effects not just limited to the most vulnerable.
There could also be road closures, delays and cancellations of train and air travel.
Ambulance services in England are on the highest level of alert and under ‘extreme pressure’, Trusts have confirmed, as hot weather challenges combine with Covid absences among staff and continued delays in the release of patients to A&E.
The London Ambulance Service has urged the public to support it as the heat continues by only calling 999 in life-threatening emergencies, staying hydrated and staying out of the sun during the hottest spells of the day.
The Royal Life Saving Society UK has warned people of the dangers of trying to cool off in lakes, quarries, rivers and other waterways in extremely hot weather.
The charity urged people to find supervised swimming sites, to remember that the water is often much colder than it looks, not to stray too far from shore or swim against the current and always bring a friend to swim.
The warning comes as West Yorkshire Police say a 16-year-old boy, Alfie McCraw, from Wakefield, died after experiencing difficulty while swimming in the Aire and Calder Navigation.
Superintendent Nick Smart said it was an ‘extremely tragic incident’ and urged people not to be tempted to cool off in the open water as the temperatures got even hotter, unless it was it is a supervised area intended for swimming.
District Station Commander Jimmy Fitt, of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: ‘We need people of all ages to be aware of the risks – we know that when it’s hot it’s attempting to enter the water, but you should only do so in designated safe areas or the consequences could be fatal.
On the roads, the RAC recorded a 10% increase in breakdowns on Monday compared to a typical Monday in mid-July, with hundreds of vehicles across the UK unable to function properly due to the heat.
Network Rail is preparing to introduce speed restrictions to reduce the likelihood of track buckling as the heatwave continues, which will cause delays to passenger journeys and disrupt freight services.
Warm weather conditions will remain in place for much of the week for the majority of England and Wales, although slightly cooler on Wednesday and Thursday, with temperatures rising again at the weekend, said the Met Office.
Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Rebekah Sherwin said: “Temperature from Sunday to Monday is expected to exceed 35C in the south-east, although details are still uncertain.
“Elsewhere, temperatures could be quite well above 32C in England and Wales, and in the mid to high 20s further north.”
Downing Street said “significant work” was underway in Whitehall to ensure the most vulnerable were protected during the heatwave.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said planning had taken place within the NHS and with local councils as well as transport networks.
The hot weather can put a strain on the heart and lungs, with the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions and young children being particularly at risk.
It can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, and affect the ability to work or concentrate.
People are encouraged to try to keep their homes cool, for example by closing blinds or curtains and keeping bedrooms well ventilated at night, drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding too much exercise and staying indoors. shelter from the sun during the hottest part of the day.
In some areas, the heatwave comes after months of below-average rainfall, and water companies are urging households to save water, as demand rises in the face of high temperatures.
Although a garden hose ban is not currently being considered, Thames Water and Yorkshire Water are among those warning that their reservoirs and other resources are below normal.
People are urged to turn off taps when brushing their teeth or washing dishes, only run dishwashers when full, change the garden hose for watering cans, reuse the water from the paddling pool for the plants, to let the lawn turn brown and to avoid washing cars.