5 things you might be tempted to do in the heatwave that are actually illegal

5 things you might be tempted to do in the heatwave that are actually illegal
Artist creates necklace and earrings made of ice to keep cool during ...

With temperatures in parts of the UK soaring to their highest ever on record, you might be tempted to find ways to cool yourself down.

But before you think about taking your dog out in the car or jumping in the water to cool off, brush up on the rules as some of these simple things could inadvertently get you in trouble.

For the first time, temperatures exceeding 40 degrees centigrade have been forecast in parts of the country and the Met Office has issued its first ever Red warning for exceptional heat.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

With the oppressive climate, you may be tempted to behave in ways you normally wouldn’t in order to cool off, but beware, as some unexpected actions may actually be illegal.

Driving without shoes

While it might be tempting to slip off your sweaty shoes while driving a car, drivers are warned that not wearing the correct footwear, or any footwear, could mean you’re breaking the law.

Failing to have the correct footwear on while driving a vehicle breaks rule 97 of the Highway Code, which states drivers should ensure “clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner”, and could see you in trouble for driving without due care and attention.

According to the RAC, you should avoid operating your vehicle, with sandals, flip-flops or with bare feet.

If caught wearing flip-flops or no shoes while driving, particularly if involved in an accident, you may be liable for a charge of driving without due care and attention. This carries a £100 on-the-spot fine and three points on your licence.

iStock/Getty Images

Leaving a dog in a car

On a sweltering day, leaving an animal in a car can lead to severe illness or, in the worst-case scenario, death.

If a pet gets too hot it can suffer heat stroke and drivers are warned every summer not to leave dogs in cars, even with the window cracked.

While the act of leaving a dog alone in a car is not an illegal act, if anything happens to the animal due to it being left in those conditions, it then becomes a legal issue.

Drivers committing this offence could be charged with animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and could face an unlimited fine or even jail time.


On a boiling hot day, you may be extremely tempted to take a dip in a body of water to cool off, but you have to be careful about the laws.

Swimming in the sea on a beach is typically ok, but there are other waterways that have more rules around them.

Some harbours and other waterways are illegal to swim in since they’re working areas and would be dangerous to take a dip in.

Bristol Council recently issued a reminder to residents that it is illegal to use the harbour for swimming.

They tweeted: “With the temperatures rising you may be considering an instant cool down.

“Please do not be tempted to swim in the harbour and waterways, as entering the water presents significant risks.

“Call 999 and ask for the fire service if you see someone in trouble in the water.”

Sunbathing naked

Strictly speaking, stripping off in public is not illegal, but there are multiple conditions attached to the rules to prevent onlookers from harm.

If a person’s being naked causes distress or alarm to others, then it becomes an offence – this applies to sunbathing naked in your own garden.

According to The Crown Prosecution Service: “In the case of naturism a balance needs to be struck between the naturist's right to freedom of expression and the right of the wider public to be protected from harassment, alarm and distress.”

If you plan to catch some rays while naked in your garden, it’s advised that you warn any neighbours that overlook your garden know beforehand to avoid any nasty surprises.

BBQs in public

Rules on using single-use disposable barbecues on beaches vary in different locations, but some councils including Brighton and Hove have banned them.

The rule in Brighton states: “You cannot use single-use, disposable barbecues on any part of the beach, promenade or Lawns.”

It has been introduced as a public space protection order (PSPO) and aims to tackle safety and environmental issues caused by barbecues, as well as lanterns and balloons.

Anyone in breach of the PSOP faces a fixed penalty notice. However, non-disposable barbecues are still permitted to be used on beaches.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)