People relax on Crosby Beach on the Merseyside Image copyright PA Media
Image caption People relax on the Merseyside’s Crosby Beach, where lifeguards put out signs warning of strong currents

Wednesday is officially the hottest day of the year so far, with people flocking to beaches and beauty spots.

Met Office forecasters said temperatures hit 31C at Heathrow Airport, beating the previous record of 28.9C set at the end of May.

A level three heat-health alert has been set for England, with advice to take extra care in the sun.

People have been told not to leave hand sanitiser in hot cars as they could catch fire.

As Britons enjoy the warmer weather after a further easing of England’s coronavirus lockdown, they have been told not to leave bottles of the alcohol-based hand sanitisers in unattended cars – where inside temperatures could be as hot as 55C.

An alert issued by NHS Property Services and shared on the Fire Industry Association website, explains there have been “a number of reports of hand sanitiser being the cause of fires when left in vehicles in the hot weather the UK is currently experiencing”.

The organisation said the alcohol hand sanitiser is “becoming heated resulting in flammable vapours being released”, which reach a “flashpoint” and ignite, setting fire to flammable components within the car.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A man relaxes during the sunny weather in Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Tuesday missed out on being the year’s hottest day, with a temperature of 28.6C recorded at Heathrow Airport and Kew Gardens falling short of the 28.9C recorded at the end of May.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “We are going to beat it tomorrow and the day after,” adding temperatures would edge towards 33C as the UK experiences “lots of hot and sunny weather through the next couple of days”.

He added the heat would be “quite widespread”, explaining that even across parts of Scotland there could be “highs of 26 or 27”.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Crowds flocked to the beach in Scarborough on Wednesday

The highest UK maximum temperature recorded in June is currently 35.6C, set at Mayflower Park, Southampton on 28th June 1976.

The Met Office raised the level of its heat-health alert to three on Wednesday, as health officials advised the most vulnerable – many of whom have been shielding during the lockdown – to protect themselves amid the “exceptionally hot weather forecast this week”.

Public Health England (PHE) said older people, those with underlying health conditions, and very young children were all more at risk from the higher temperatures.

Shoppers have also been advised to be aware they could be forced to spend extra time in the sun as a result of social distancing measures.

Dr Lynn Thomas, medical director at St John Ambulance, said: “You could end up in the sun for longer than expected on what would normally be a quick journey, such as queuing to enter the supermarket, so you should be prepared to look after yourself and others.”

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A sunbather enjoys the hot weather in London’s Greenwich Park

The amber level three, which is currently in place for the West and East Midlands, requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups, according to the Met Office website.

Warnings have been also issued about UV levels, which are going to be “exceptionally high” over the next couple of days.

Mr Burkill said these will reach eight across many places and nine across parts of Devon and Cornwall on Thursday.

“That’s about as high as it gets really in the UK.”

Mr Burkill advised anyone outside for prolonged periods of time on Wednesday and Thursday to take measures to protect themselves.

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