Summer walking – 5 ways to stay safe in the heat

It’s great to go walking on sunny summer days. Read our top tips for staying safe in the heat

How to stay safe and enjoy our summer walks 

Who doesn’t love a summer’s walk on a blue-sky day?  From the promise of an ice cream to a dip in the sea, there's something for us all to look forward to on a summer walk.  More daylight and less layers make such a difference.  And with a little bit of planning, we can be sure to enjoy the heat and the sunshine safely.   

Here are our five top tips for staying safe in the heat: 

1. Check the weather and plan ahead 

Check the weather and plan your clothing accordingly.  But also plan for weather changes, however unlikely it seems. Pack a light waterproof jacket in case of unexpected showers.  It may also come in useful if you’re walking in the hills where it is often much cooler higher up than lower down. 

If the forecast is for hot weather plan to walk in the early morning or the evening if possible and avoid walking at the hottest times (11am - 3pm). Take frequent breaks in the shade. If we’re having one of Britain’s rare heatwaves, you may want to consider a shorter walk than usual.  Or plan a route with plenty of shade, such as a woodland walk.  It’s also worth working out a spot where you can cut your walk short if you need to. 

2. Use sun protection

Make sure to apply plenty of sun cream (SPF 30+) and keep reapplying regularly throughout your walk.  Your forehead, scalp and ears are particularly vulnerable areas so wear a hat, even on overcast days. A wide brim and a neck flap will keep the sun off your face, head and neck.  

In the heat it is a natural impulse to remove clothing so choose loose, lightweight items that protect your arms and legs but don’t make you overheat. Fabrics with a tight weave offer the best protection.  And if you do remove a piece of clothing, you may be exposing skin that has not been sun-protected so remember to apply sun cream to these areas. 

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate 

Carry plenty of water with you.  You’ll definitely need more than in cooler weather.  The extra weight will be worth it, and a water bladder is worth considering to make it easy to carry and drink your water.  Sip regularly to avoid getting dehydrated. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. 

If you’re heading out on a longer hike, take some water purifiers with you just in case of an emergency. 

4. Look out for your hiking friends & group 

Keep an eye on your fellow walkers in the heat.  Sun protection isn’t just about sunburn.  Look out for signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Melanoma Fund have some great advice about spotting, preventing and treating heat related illness, as part of their Sunguarding Sport guidance.  

Don’t forget your four-legged friends. If you’re taking your dog along on your walk, make sure you take some water for them too, and let them have a lie-down in the shade when they’re looking tired. 

5. Protect the countryside 

The summer heat can create very dry conditions. Help keep the countryside safe by looking out for fire risks. Do not light fires and report unattended fires, or activities which could cause fires  to the emergency services.  Only have barbeques where signs say you can.   

And as with every walk, always follow the Countryside Code in England and Wales, or the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

A group of people walking across and open field of wildflowers

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male walker in waterproof jacket an backpack

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