TODAY could be the hottest day of the year in East Lancashire.

Temperatures will rise to around 26C – nearly 80F –as sunshine bathes the county.

And the warm weather is expected to last right through until the weekend, although temperatures are likely to peak today.

A Met Office spokeswoman said: “There will be fine, dry weather throughout the rest of the week, through into the weekend, temperatures are likely to be around 26 degrees.

“There is a very small risk of showers later in the week, but it will be a week of fine dry weather with spells of prolonged sunshine and patchy cloud.”

Due to the warm weather, shops are seeing an increased demand in summer stock, including food, drink, suncream and garden furniture.

Asda is reporting record sales across its products, including a 230 per cent increase in beer sales, 250 increase in ice cream and frozen yoghurt sales.

Picnic items are also expected to be up by 380 per cent and BBQs by 305 per cent this weekend, and paddling pools see an increase of 850 per cent.

Sun worshippers are taking care of themselves during the hot spell as suncream sales soar by 50 per cent.

Chris Carden, Asda’s weather expert said: “With the impending heatwave predicted for this weekend, Brits are committed to enjoying the outdoors and dining al fresco.”

Huntleys in Samlesbury has also seen an increase in demand for frozen treats.

Katherine Smith said: “We’ve seen an increase in demand for our ice creams and ice cream sundaes.

“We’ve even got our outdoor games in the courtyard.”

But sunseekers are being warned that the hot weather is not all about pleasure.

The East Lancashire Hospital Trust which runs the hospitals in Blackburn and Burnley, is seeing more people suffering with weather-related illnesses and injuries. Gill Simpson, divisional general manager said: “It is difficult to quantify the impact of the weather on the business of the trust although both our urgent care centres at Burnley and Blackburn, and our emergency department at the Royal Blackburn Hospital are very busy.

“There is a general increase in people presenting with things that could be attributed to the sunshine and heat.

“For example, we are seeing children and adults who have sustained injuries as a result of outdoor activities; elderly people who are dehydrated; and some cases where people have stayed out in the sun for too long.

“We would advise that people take sensible measures to stay safe and well – wear loose clothing, high factor sun protection, hats – particularly children and older people – and of course, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.

“The people of East Lancashire are, as always, assured of our full care and attention should they need to attend our services.”