Tips on how to cope in hot weather from Public Health England
Most of us welcome hot
weather, but when it's too hot for too long there are health
risks. If a heatwave hits this summer, make sure the hot
weather doesn't harm you or anyone you know.
Why is a heatwave a problem?
The main risks posed by a heatwave are:
Who is most at risk?
A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people
- older people, especially those over 75
- babies and young children
- people with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or
- 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 medications, 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
Level one alert: be prepared
The Meteorological Office has a warning system that issues
alerts if a heatwave is likely. Level one is the minimum alert and
is in place from June 1 until September 15 (which is the period
that heatwave alerts are likely to be raised).
Although you don't have to do anything during a level one alert,
it is advisable to be aware of what to do if the alert level is
raised. Knowing how to keep cool during long periods of hot weather
can help save lives.
Public Health England (PHE) has advice on how
to stay safe during a heatwave (PDF, 417kb).
Level two alert: heatwave is forecast
The Met Office raises an alert if there is a high chance that an
average temperature of 30C by day and 15C overnight will occur over
the next two to three days. These temperatures can have a
significant effect on people's health if they last for at least two
days and the night in between.
Although you don't need to take any immediate action, follow
these steps in preparation:
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio, TV or social
media, or the Met Office.
- If you're planning to travel, check the forecast at your
- Learn how to keep cool at home with the beat the heat
checklist (PDF, 193kb).
Level three alert: when a heatwave is
This alert is triggered when the Met Office confirms there will
be heatwave temperatures in one or more regions.
Follow the instructions for a level two alert. The following
tips apply to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and
comfortable, and reducing health risks.
Tips for coping in hot weather
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter
outside. If it's safe, open them for ventilation when it is
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don't go out between
11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you're vulnerable to
the effects of heat.
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside
the windows. If this isn't possible, use light-coloured curtains
and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make
the room hotter).
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit
juice. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee and cola) or
drinks high in sugar.
- Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food,
water and any medications you need.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go
to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less
able to look after themselves.
If you're worried about yourself or a vulnerable neighbour,
friend or relative, you can contact the local environmental health
office at your local authority.
Environmental health workers can visit a home to inspect it for
hazards to health, including excess heat. Visit
GOV.UK to find your local authority.
Level four alert: severe heatwave
This is the highest heatwave alert in Britain. It is raised when
a heatwave is severe and/or prolonged, and is an emergency
At level four, the health risks from a heatwave can affect fit
and healthy people, and not just those in high-risk groups. These
groups include the elderly, the very young and people with chronic
Follow the information given above for a level three alert.
Check that anyone around you who is in a high-risk group is coping
with the heat.
How do I know if someone needs help?
Seek help from a GP or contact
NHS 111 if someone is feeling unwell and shows symptoms
- chest pain
- cramps which get worse or don't go away
Get the person somewhere cool to rest. Give them plenty of
fluids to drink.
Find out about the symptoms of