Beat the heat: staying safe in hot weather

Although most of us welcome the summer sun, high temperatures can be harmful to your health. In one hot spell in August 2003, in England and Wales there were more than 2,000 extra deaths than would normally be expected.

The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. As our climate changes, hot spells are expected to be more frequent and more intense.

This graphic summarizes what to do when the weather is very hot.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/heatwave or continue reading this page which will advise you how to stay safe or help others to stay safe in hot weather, including how to keep your home cool.

Stay connected: Look after yourself, check on others. especially older or more frail people

Why is this important? 

What can I do? 

Listen to the weather forecast and the news and plan ahead

Why is this important? 

Knowing the forecast can help you plan ahead.  Heatwaves may affect other services, such as power and water supplies, as well as transport. Air pollution can become worse during periods of hot weather.

It is best to avoid getting too hot in the first place. If you plan ahead you can avoid situations where you become dangerously hot

What can I do?

Essential Tips to Help you Stay Well

Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine

Why is this important? 

Everyone is at risk of dehydration in hot temperatures. Some drinks can increase dehydration such as drinks with alcohol or caffeine (including tea, coffee or cola drinks), and drinks high in sugar

What can I do? 

What can I do?

Slow down and avoid heavy activity

Why is this important?

Heavy activity can make you prone to heat-related illnesses

What can I do? 

Keep your home cool

Why is this important?

Even during a relatively cool summer, 1 in 5 homes are likely to overheat  For many people, this makes life uncomfortable and sleeping difficult. Some people are particularly vulnerable to heat and for them a hot home can worsen existing health conditions, or even make them very ill.

What can I do?

In preparation for warmer weather, use this simple checklist to find out if your home is at risk of overheating and what you can do if there is a problem.

Go indoors or outdoors, whichever feels cooler

Why is this important?

It is important for your health to avoid getting hot in the first place. If you do get hot, it is important to give your body a break from the heat. It may be cooler outside in the shade than it is inside an overheated building

What can I do?

Cars get hot, avoid closed spaces

Why is this important?

Small closed spaces, such as cars, can get dangerously hot very quickly. Some people, especially babies, young children and older people find it harder to stay cool as they may not be able to move themselves to a cool place if they are dependent on others

What can I do?

Be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illness

Why is this important?

Chronic illnesses can get worse in hot weather. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two potentially serious conditions that can occur if you get too hot.

Heat exhaustion is where you become very hot and start to lose water or salt from your body. Common symptoms include weakness, feeling faint, headache, muscle cramps, feeling sick, heavy sweating and intense thirst.

Heatstroke is where the body is no longer able to cool itself and a person's body temperature becomes dangerously high. Heatstroke is less common, but more serious.

Untreated symptoms include confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness

What can I do?

Learn more about common signs and symptoms to look out for. 

What to do if you think someone is too hot

If you or someone else is too hot, cool your skin with water, slow down and rehydrate.

Why is this important?

If heat exhaustion isn't spotted and treated early on, there's a risk it could lead to heatstroke. Untreated heatstroke can be fatal

What can I do?

If you notice that someone has signs of heat-related illness, you should:

Get help if the person doesn't improve or is very ill. Call NHS 111 or in an emergency 999

Why is this important?

Severe heat exhaustion or heatstroke requires hospital treatment

What can I do?

If a person has improved with the cooling advice above but you still have concerns about them, contact your GP or NHS 111 for advice 

You should call 999 for an ambulance if: