Beating the heat

Although most of us welcome the summer sun, high temperatures can be harmful to your health.  The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot weather does not harm you or anyone you know.

Why is hot weather a problem?

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • not having enough water (dehydration)
  • overheat, which can make symptoms worse for people who already have problems with their heart or breathing
  • heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Who is most at risk?

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

  • older people, especially those over 75
  • babies and young children
  • people with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems
  • people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • people who misuse alcohol or drugs
  • people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports

Tips for coping in hot weather

  • keep rooms cool by closing windows that are exposed to the sun during the day and pull down shades or curtains if possible. You can open the windows for ventilation when it is cooler. Down the beat the heat: keep cool at home checklist
  • identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool
  • keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this is not possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • avoid the heat: stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is at it’s hottest
  • wear light, loose-fitting, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors and walk in the shade
  • have cool baths and showers, and splash yourself with cool water
  • drink plenty of fluids, such as water or diluted fruit juice and avoid excess alcohol.
  • check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves
  • if you are worried about yourself or a vulnerable neighbour, friend or relative, you can contact the local environmental office at your local authority

See more information on how to cope in hot weather on the NHS website. 

You can find further information below:

Public Health England: beat the heat leaflet

Heatwave Plan for England – GOV.UK (

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke – NHS (

Sun, UV and cancer | Cancer Research UK