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Heat health alert comes into effect at 12pm before temperatures hit mid-30s

A Level 3 Heat Health Alert will come into effect today as Britain braces for another week of sweltering sunshine.

Temperatures are expected to hit 29C in London, 28C in Southampton and 26C in Exeter later today.

Things will only get hotter as the week goes on, climbing into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts by Thursday. Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures in the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday.

But fear not, this heat spell will not be as extreme as the record-breaking 40C scorcher in July.

Today’s amber alert covers southern and central England from midday until 6pm on Saturday.

Experts are advising people to look out for the elderly or anyone with an existing health condition, as well as young children.

Under this amber alert, social and healthcare services must ‘target specific actions at high-risk groups’.

It is one stage lower than the most serious level four red warning, issued in last month’s heatwave.

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss, meanwhile, has weighed in after two water companies announced hosepipe bans and others warned they may need to follow suit.

It follows the driest eight months from November to June since 1976 as well as the driest July on record for parts of southern and eastern England.

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Ms Truss said: ‘My view is that we should be tougher on the water companies and that there hasn’t been enough action to deal with these leaky pipes which have been there for years.

‘I have a lot of issues with my water company in Norfolk, which is a particularly dry area of the country, and those companies need to be held to account.’

She told the Daily Express hosepipe bans ‘should be a last resort’, saying: ‘What I’m worried about is it seems to be a first resort rather than the water companies dealing with the leaks.’

Heatwave thresholds – which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country – are likely to be hit in much of the UK.

Months of low rain have left the countryside, urban parks and gardens tinder dry. Households in some areas are also being urged not to light fires or have barbecues.

The Met Office’s fire severity index is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach ‘exceptional’ for swathes of England by the weekend.

Scientists warn the likelihood of droughts is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Climate change is also making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely – with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming, research shows.

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