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

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.

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. 

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.

The main risks posed by a heat wave are:

Tips for hot weather

  • look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  • stay cool indoors – many of us will need to stay safe at home this summer so know how to keep your home cool
  • close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
  • drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day
  • make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling
  • if you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow safety advice

Read more about coping in heat waves and hot weather on the NHS website.

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.