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Hot Weather and Summer Activity Advice (FS120343)

(Published July 2018)


Although the UK is not known for its high temperatures we do experience heat waves from time to time. This guidance is designed to support leaders in preparing and delivering Scouting during hot weather and is just as relevant for those traveling abroad as it is for use in the UK.


Make sure your programme has flexibility and your regularly review to respond to changes in weather and the needs of the group. When the weather is hot, plan to do more active sessions in the evenings, leaving rest time and activities in the shade during the afternoon heat. Make sure you have plenty of refreshment breaks, ensuring that everyone keeps hydrated and takes a break in the shade.


Think about what travel methods are best for hot weather and be prepared, carrying plenty of water and plan in rest breaks. Make sure that drivers have sufficient rest too and if possible share driving responsibilities. Traveling time is also important, make the most of the cooler parts of the day for journeys as it will be more comfortable for all and usually less busy on the roads.

Activity leaders
Consider the effect of heat and dehydration on them too, make sure that refreshments and shade are available and that rest periods are reviewed so that everyone is fit to do what is required of them.

Health, hygiene and wellbeing

Make provision for regular hand washing, especially prior to meals and for those preparing food. Encourage everyone to maintain personal hygiene, and provide opportunities which encourage this such as water activities and swimming. Make sure that you ensure that washing facilities are appropriate to provide privacy.

It’s really important that everyone looks out for each other, apply the Scouting principles of team work to help make sure that everyone is ok. Encourage young people to support each other, using Lodges, Sixes, Patrols and also assign adults to support specific groups. Make sure that your programme responds to the needs of the group, if everyone is starting to get too hot, provide a rest break, move activities into the shade etc.

Sun safe
Remember the rules of sun safety: slip on a top, pop on a hat and slop on some sun cream. Make sure everyone’s following these rules, and suggest neckers also be worn with t-shirts to protect necks and shoulders from the sun. Encourage parents to provide sun cream for their child but have some spare in case of need, make sure it’s a high factor and that opportunities are provided for young people to reapply their own sun cream regularly, every 2-3 hours. It’s not appropriate for an adult to do this (other than parents to their own child). Ensure that you’re aware of any allergies to sun cream (ask the question on your activity information form) and get young people with allergies to bring their own cream.

People can become dehydrated under any conditions, simply by failing to sufficiently replace their natural fluid loss.
Signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, eyes, and lips, lack of appetite, impatience, lethargy, nausea, headaches, tiredness, dizziness or light-headedness, inability to walk, and delirium. 
It’s better to prevent than to treat, so plan in refreshment breaks, make sure everyone has a water bottle and carries it with them and plenty of drinks available. If you do need to treat dehydration, find a shady area for you or your young person to rest in, drink fluids slowly, keep cool and avoid sweating. 

Heat exhaustion  and heat stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke is caused by a severe loss of water and salt from the body through excessive sweating. It often affects people who aren’t used to the heat but it can also happen to those who are already unwell, especially if they’ve been vomiting or had diarrhoea. Heat stroke is an extreme form of heat exhaustion which requires immediate medical treatment to bring the person’s temperature down, as they are no longer able to regulate their own temperature. 
Signs of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps (especially in the arms, legs and abdomen), headaches, dizziness, confusion, cold sweats, clammy skin, nausea and loss of appetite, rapid shallow breathing, and delirium or unconsciousness. 
Prevent heat exhaustion by providing plenty of shade, adapting your programme to respond to the weather conditions, this could be making use of the cooler evenings and having rest periods in early afternoon when it’s hotter. Keep everyone hydrated. To treat heat exhaustion, you or your young person should rest in a shaded area with legs propped up. Drink lots of cool liquids, preferably water. Loosen clothing and cool skin with damp cloths or cool water. Ensure you or your young person gets medical attention from a doctor, even after recovery. 

Ticks are more prevalent in hot weather, make sure that you check the area you are visiting to find out if ticks are in that area and if so follow the tick guidance.


Fire safety
Be mindful of the dry ground and foliage, making sure that any fires are given sufficient clear area to prevent fires from spreading. If adults do wish to smoke this needs to be away from the group and in a suitable area where risk of fire is managed.

Food Safety
Make sure that you choose a menu to suit the weather and adapt as needed. Storage of food and preparation are also areas with increased risk when the weather is hot. Some foods come with a higher risk when exposed to heat throughout the day, so try alternatives, for example replace fresh milk with UHT, store milk in buckets of cold water in the shade and refresh water regularly to keep it cool.

Risk assess
Review your programme and make sure that it is suitable for the conditions, some activities are best avoided to reduce risks when it’s extremely hot and dry, for example fireworks.


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