Tips to reduce water use, keep cool and keep safe from fire

11th August

Covid heatwave – Sussex 10th August 2020. Tanker refilling near Cuckfield Reservoir.

South East Water, the NHS and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have all issued heatwave advice.

South East Water is asking customers keep using tap water for drinking, hygiene and cooking only as the heatwave continues.

The company has seen record-breaking demand for water which has outstripped how much can be pumped through its network.

This has left households in some areas with low pressure or no water and led to South East Water asking customers to help by not using hosepipes, sprinklers and jet-washers during the weekend.

Steve Andrews, Head of Central Operations for South East Water, said: “Our customers responded brilliantly and cut demand by 30 million litres by reducing non-essential water use on Saturday, but we need to keep this up and reduce it still further.

“When demand is this high, we simply can’t treat enough raw water and get it through the extensive network of pipes to all customers, especially at peak times.

“Overnight our water treatment works are running at near-capacity to replenish supplies into underground storage reservoirs, but at this rate of demand the system simply can’t catch up.

“Our water technicians have been working round the clock to produce this extra drinking quality water needed – the equivalent of filling to the brim almost half a million baths  – and we’ve been fixing as many leaks as we can on our extensive network.

Steve added: “By not using water-guzzling garden hoses and sprinklers as well as not jet-washing the car and patio, everyone can do their bit for their community.

“There sounds like we should have a break in the weather next week which will bring your garden some welcome rain so please only water plants that really need it and definitely no sprinklers – your golden lawn will bounce back.

“Avoid filling a paddling pool. I was shocked to be told that the average paddling pool now needs a whopping 530 litres of water to fill them – more than three times the total daily amount of water usually used by one person. This is adding to the high demand for water seen during this hot summer weather.”  Saving water means saving money too and customers can find other top tips for summer water use and free water saving devices on the company’s website here

With record breaking temperatures and scorching weather at the weekend, your local NHS has some tips on enjoying the sun safely:

  1. Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  2. Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, and make sure you take water with you if you are travelling
  3. Stay cool indoors – many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool (close the curtains to keep indoor spaces cooler)
  4. If going outdoors, try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm. Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat. Avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day
  5. If you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice
  6. Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  7. Remember that while coronavirus restrictions are in place, you will need to follow government guidance to use public spaces safely. keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines and wash your hands regularly

Elizabeth Gill, Chief Medical Officer for the Sussex NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “While for most people the warm weather and sunshine are very welcome, this week’s combination of heat and humidity is quite uncomfortable for others, especially the very young, old and those with breathing problems or other health conditions.

“With many people having to stay safe at home this summer it’s especially important to be aware of how to prevent it becoming too hot indoors. Try to keep your bedroom and living space cool, by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun and opening your windows at cooler times of the day and overnight when safe to do so. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.

“Please look out for older people and others who may find it difficult to stay cool and hydrated in the hot weather. Many people who are at higher risk of ill health due to the hot weather are also at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

“If you do start to feel unwell and it’s not an emergency please contact NHS 111, where a trained advisor will help you access the most appropriate care. You can also get health advice and remedies from your local pharmacist.”

People can stay up to date with the latest weather forecasts and alerts through the Met Office on its social media channels – Facebook (metoffice) or Twitter (@metoffice) or visiting www.metoffice.gov.uk

Public Health England have more tips and advice on how to beat the heat on their website – just search for ‘Heatwave Plan for England’ on www.gov.uk 

Dry conditions can mean that fires start very easily. Each year UK, 1,700 farm buildings and 66,000 acres of grassland are destroyed by fire. Help East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to keep people safe by taking just a few simple safety steps to prevent a devastating fire in the open:

• Don’t have open fires in the countryside

• Sunlight shining through glass can start large fires – take glass bottles/jars home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.

• Keep young children and ball games away from barbecues.

• Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly.

• Only use barbecues in suitable and safe areas and never leave them unattended.

• Ensure that your barbecue is fully extinguished and cold before disposing of the contents.

• Obey safety signs.

• Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows – they can ruin whole fields of crops.