EAST Lancashire looks set for a heatwave over the next few days with Thursday set to be the hottest day of the year so far and as residents prepare to enjoy the sun, experts warn to take care of potential health risks.

Temperatures in Blackburn and Darwen are set to reach a high of 28° on Wednesday between 5pm and 7pm before climbing even higher to 29° on Thursday with Clitheroe, Burnley and Accrington only very slightly cooler at highs of 28°.

Heat will then fall to 25° on Friday before dropping further to the mid-teens over the weekend.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: "The sun is as strong as it gets at the moment because we're so close to the solstice.

"We've got peak sun strength, clear skies, plenty of sunshine - it's the perfect ingredients for high UV."

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

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.

Looking at the national picture, Mr Burkill said: “The heat is going to be quite widespread, even across parts of Scotland we could be looking at highs of 26 or 27."

"The nights are going to be uncomfortably hot as well, so people who are susceptible to the heat will struggle."

Medical Director at St John Ambulance Dr Lynn Thomas 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."

She added: "Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two of the most serious problems that can develop when the mercury soars but by being prepared you can spot the early warning signs, such as headache and dizziness."