Fewer people were on the move in Oldham as they took precautions during the peak of the recent heatwave, new figures show.

The UK recorded historic temperatures on Monday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 19, with some areas topping 40C for the first time, as the Met Office issued a red risk-to-life heat warning in certain areas of the country.

An amber weather warning was also in place for much of England, Wales and southern Scotland.

The heatwave caused major disruption to travel, and fires erupted around the country – including one on Saddleworth moor resulting from a disposable barbecue.

Climate charities are warning extreme temperatures will become more frequent and severe as the climate crisis worsens.

On the hottest day, people in Oldham seemingly took their own precautions, with footfall on public transport across the area down compared to the week before.

Figures from Google, which uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people’s movement in different areas of their daily lives, show activity on public transport on Tuesday, July 19 was 9.3 per cent below the week before.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) confirmed there was a 9.3 per cent reduction.

On Monday, July 18, the other day Met Office warnings were issued for, footfall was also 2.7 per cent down on the previous week.

Across the UK, public transport usage was 9.1 per cent lower on Monday and 13.2 per cent down on Tuesday. 

Most places in England saw a similar pattern, with the majority of the areas bucking the trend located in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Climate charity Friends of the Earth said many people felt “trapped in stiflingly hot homes that are poorly designed to keep out the summer heat” and warned that extreme weather is likely to become more common because of the climate crisis.

Mike Childs, head of policy at the charity, said: “The Government must do far more to future-proof our homes, communities and infrastructure – as well as cutting the emissions that are causing this crisis.”

“This should include a nationwide programme to upgrade our homes to enable them to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, more urban tree-planting to create cooling shade and the provision of air-conditioned community centres to enable the elderly to get some respite from the worst of the heat.”

A TfGM spokesperson said: “We saw decreases across all transport modes during the two days of the heatwave, averaging a reduction of approximately 15 per cent for Greater Manchester, and 9.3 per cent for Oldham.

“Some changes to service were in effect during these days, such as speed restrictions and 12-minute trams for the safety of passengers, and travel advice was issued in advance to enable them to make choices about modes or times of travel, and where possible, working at or closer to home, or avoiding travel entirely.

“Messaging encouraging people to only travel if necessary was put out across the UK by transport operators.

“It is likely that the decreases in travel were largely due to people electing not to travel and the impact the heat had on service provision across Greater Manchester and the UK, but could have also been impacted by outside factors such as most schools being closed for the summer holidays.

“We strive to always maintain the best possible service for our customers in unprecedented situations and would like to thank passengers for their understanding and patience during the heatwave.”

A spokesperson for the UK Government said it is “taking robust action to prepare for the challenges of climate change.”

“We are working to ensure our homes are fit for the future and have already committed to considering overheating and adaption when developing our future policies to future-proof our housing stock,” they added.

Workplace activity around the country remained roughly the same during the hot weather, but residential footfall doubled on Monday, July 18 and more than tripled on Tuesday, July 19 compared to a week earlier.

In Oldham, time spent in residential areas on Tuesday increased by 10.7 per cent.

Climate change thinktank the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy said it is unknown whether people stayed at home due to the dangers of the heat or the disruption caused to public transport and daily life, but that employees and employers will have to adapt in the future.