Find out about the health risks during a heatwave, who is most likely to be affected, and how to identify heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

The Met Office warns about a heat wave when temperatures are likely to be very high for several days in a row. Sometimes, heat waves are accompanied by high humidity. 

While most of us in North Yorkshire welcome summertime and higher temperatures, heat waves can cause health problems, especially for those with existing health issues.

If you are likely to be at particular risk, or care for people who could be at risk during a heat wave, it's important that you plan ahead. Taking action in advance can help reduce the problems caused by this type of weather.

For hot weather health advice, tips on how to prepare and different alert levels and what they mean, visit NHS Choices: Heatwave: how to cope in hot weather.

The main risks posed by a heat wave are:

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Check you know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Remember, heatstroke can kill. It can develop very suddenly, and rapidly lead to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone has heatstroke, call 999 immediately.

Who is particularly at risk during a heat wave?

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

  • older people, especially those over 75;
  • babies and young children;
  • people with a serious chronic 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 who might find it difficult to look after themselves;
  • people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control;
  • people who misuse alcohol or drugs; and
  • people who are physically active - for example, manual workers or those doing sports.

Information for professionals

The heat health watch service is designed to help healthcare professionals manage during periods of extreme temperature. To find out what the plan is for your area, see the Met Office heat-health watch page.

You can also consult Public Health England's national heat wave plan.