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Red alert heatwave could stop phones getting signal, Met Office warns

Red alert heatwave could cut mobile phone signal and water supplies
Red alert heatwave could cut mobile phone signal and water supplies

The Met Office has warned mobile phone signal could be affected during next week's extreme temperatures, after issuing its first ever red heat warning.

Forecasters warned of a “potentially very serious situation” as the record for the hottest-ever day recorded in the UK is expected to be broken next week.

Temperatures could climb up to 40 degrees, as experts said there is an 80% chance Tuesday could see the UK’s record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F), set in Cambridge in 2019, beaten.

The Met Office cautioned the high temperatures could lead to strains on water and energy utilities, road and rail transport and the health and fire services.

A heatwave in 1976 saw the hot, dry weather conditions affect domestic water supplies leading to widespread water rationing.

Why will my mobile phone signal be affected?

In their 'what to expect' breakdown on the Met Office website, forecasters warned: "High risk of failure of heat-sensitive systems and equipment, potentially leading to localised loss of power and other essential services, such as water or mobile phone services".

Mobile phone signal could be effected in the heatwave, as higher temperatures can cause radio frequency (RF) waves to be disrupted.

RF waves are sent between your device and a cell tower, which allows us to communicate.

But those waves can be weakened in hot weather and high humidity.

If you flock to a busy area to enjoy the hot weather - for example a beach or park - then the demand in the area can be higher, also leading to a weaker signal.

Read more: School promises review after pupil, 13, isolated for wearing shorts in heatwave

Weather warnings for extreme heat Jul 17-19. (PA)
Weather warnings for extreme heat Jul 17-19. (PA)

Watch: Met Office issues first ever red warning for extreme heat

And the soaring temperatures won't just have an adverse effect on children and the elderly, as people of all ages are at risk of becoming ill.

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a Level Four heat-health alert for Tuesday and Wednesday which warns: "Illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups."

Grahame Madge, Met Office spokesman, said: “We’ve just issued a red warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday which is the first such warning ever issued.

“The warning covers an area from London up to Manchester and then up to the Vale of York.

“This is potentially a very serious situation.”

People have been asked to keep an eye on their elderly relatives and loved ones in particular, to ensure they are able to cope in the heat.

Read more: The action you should take now as Met Office issues red weather warning

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Beach goers enjoy the hot weather on July 10, 2022 in Weymouth, England. Britain will experience a heatwave this week as temperatures in some parts are expected to reach 30ºC. A level 2 heat health wave has been issued of the south and eastern parts of England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
The RNLI said it is expecting a “busy weekend” at the coast for its lifeboat crews and lifeguards as Brits flock to beaches and rivers to enjoy the weather. (Getty)

"You could for example, encourage them to stay hydrated with the gift of an ice cream, ask if they would like help getting shopping or picking up any medication, or you may even have an extra fan you could lend," Age UK advised.

But they warned that anyone can be at risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and warned to be vigilant in looking out for the signs.

“The symptoms of heat exhaustion can be similar to COVID-19 and include a high temperature, excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin and headaches," a spokesperson said,

"Confusion, dizziness and nausea can also be signs of a heat related illness. If you experience any of these symptoms go somewhere cool, have a cold drink and cool down your skin with water, fans or cold packs.

"If your symptoms don’t improve then call 111 for advice or 999 if there is cause for serious concern."

People walk past Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament in London. Picture date: Friday July 15, 2022.
Temperatures in the capital are expected to reach up to 40 degrees. (AP)
People travel by boat under Tower Bridge, London. Picture date: Thursday July 14, 2022.
People are being warned to look for the signs of heatstroke. (AP)

Motorists have been told to try and make their journeys outside of the hottest times of the day, particularly if they have older cars.

Sean Sidley, AA patrol of the year, said: “There are reports of road gritters being out (with sand) this weekend to reduce the chances of our roads melting.

“If it does get sticky on the roads, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a jam with the mercury rising, so make sure you carry plenty of water – at least a litre per person – and sufficient fuel, or if you’re driving an electric vehicle (EV) make sure you have plenty of charge so you can use the air conditioning when needed.”

Tim Doran, from the RNLI Water Safety Team, said the service is anticipating a “busy weekend” at the coast for its lifeboat crews and lifeguards.

“If you are planning on going to the beach, we would encourage you to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags,” he said.