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Heatwave: how to cope in hot weather

Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it's too hot, there are health risks. During heatwaves, more people than usual get seriously ill or die. If hot weather hits this summer, make sure it does not harm you or anyone you know.

Why is a heatwave a problem?

The main risks posed by a heatwave are: 

Who's most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • older people – especially those over 75 and female
  • those who live on their own or in a care home
  • people who have a serious or long-term illness including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson's disease or some mental health conditions
  • people who are on multiple medicines that may make them more likely to be badly affected by hot weather
  • those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and the very young, the bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer's disease
  • people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – those who live in a top-floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside

Tips for coping in hot weather

Keep out of the heat if you can. If you have to go outside, stay in the shade especially between 11am and 3pm, wear sunscreen, a hat and light clothes, and avoid exercise or activity that makes you hotter.

Cool yourself down. Have cold food and drinks, avoid alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks, and have a cool shower or put cool water on your skin or clothes.

Keep your living space cool. Close windows during the day and open them at night when the temperature outside has gone down. Electric fans can help if the temperature is below 35 degrees. Check the temperature of rooms, especially where people at higher risk live and sleep.

For more information visit GOV.UK: Beat the heat: staying safe in hot weather.

You can also get help from the environmental health office at your local council, if you think a hot house is affecting your health or someone else's. They can inspect a rented home for hazards to health, including excess heat.

Find your local council (GOV.UK)

Watch out for signs of heat-related illness

If you or someone else feels unwell with a high temperature during hot weather, it may be heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Find out about the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and when to get help

Page last reviewed: 28 June 2019
Next review due: 28 June 2022