Extremely hot days have the potential to cause adverse health effects.


    Who is at risk in hot weather?


    All people may feel the effects of extremely hot weather but certain groups are more vulnerable:


    • Elderly people (particularly women, those with medical problems, who live alone, are socially isolated or reliant on others)


    • Children (especially babies and young children)


    • People who work outdoors


    • Obese and overweight people


    • Hospital inpatient and nursing home residents


    • People with medical problems/chronic disease


    Protecting yourself and your family in hot weather


    • Plan your day to avoid going out during the hottest part of the day


    • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you get thirsty. If going out, take some water with you. Always keep a bottle of water in the car


    • Take regular breaks in the shade when outdoors


    • Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing made of natural fibres such as cotton. Place a damp cloth/scarf/handkerchief on the back of the neck – Re-wet as needed


    • Park your car in a shady spot or in a covered car park building: never leave children or animals unattended in cars


    • Use sunscreen and re-apply regularly. Wear a hat, sunglasses and carry an umbrella to use as a sun shade. Splash or spray some water on arms and feet to cool off


    • Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, hot or sugary drinks. Avoid heavy meals, eat salads and fruits instead


    • Have cool showers or baths. Take a dip at the beach or swimming pools to cool off. Always ensure you adhere to water safety practices


    • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity or exercise. Try and plan it for early morning or in the evening


    When planning trips, take account of possible longer travelling times. Keep your home and office first-aid kit and disaster management packs up to date.


    Remember that pets and animals are also prone to heat effects – keep them in the shade and provide plenty of water.


    Staying cool indoors when it’s hot outside


    •   If the room is cooler than outside, keep windows closed and blinds down. Open the windows once the    temperature outside is cooler


    • Use a fan or air-conditioning unit where possible


    • Consider using pale curtains or other reflective materials on windows


    • Keep curtains closed or drapes drawn in rooms that get a lot of sun


    • Try not to use the stove or oven very often


    • Move to the coolest room in the house


    Older people who live alone may need to be checked on daily to ensure they are well.

    How do I help myself or someone who may be suffering from heat-related illness


    If you feel weak, anxious, dizzy, have intense thirst and a headache, do the following as soon as possible:


    • Move to a cool place


    • Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate


    •      Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms and drink oral rehydration    solutions containing electrolytes. Medical attention is required if heat cramps are sustained for more    than one

    A heat stroke can occur suddenly and may progress rapidly to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone may be suffering the effects of a heat stroke, refer him/her to the hospital.


    While waiting for the ambulance to arrive:


    • Move the person to somewhere cooler if possible


    • Increase ventilation if you’re in a room by opening a window or turning on a fan


    • Loosen their clothes, sprinkle with cool water or wrap them in a damp sheet to cool them down



    Symptoms and basic management of heat-related conditions


    Heat-related condition

    Signs and symptoms

    Initial management


    Mild and Moderate







    A feeling of thirst, fatigue and light

    Drink water or oral solutions


    headedness. Can be associated

    containing electrolytes.


    with headaches. Constipation may

    Rest in a cool area.


    occur with dehydration (especially

    If symptoms do not improve seek


    in the elderly).

    medical attention.




    If constipated discuss treatment



    options with a medical professional.

    Heat rash

    Small red itchy rash on the face,

    Rash usually improves without


    neck, upper chest, under breast,




    groin and scrotum areas. Infection

    Minimise sweating by staying in an


    may occur.

    air-conditioned environment, taking



    frequent showers and wearing light







    Keep the affected area dry.



    Topical antihistamine and antiseptic



    creams may reduce discomfort and



    prevent secondary infection.

    Heat oedema

    Swelling of the lower limbs,

    Treatment is not



    usually ankles.

    Usually subsides




    acclimatisation to the heat.

    Heat syncope

    Brief loss of consciousness or

    The person affected should rest in a


    dizziness on standing.

    cool place and lie down with legs and



    hips elevated.




    Seek medical attention to rule out



    other causes of faints.

    Heat cramps

    Painful muscular spasms, often in

    Immediate rest in a cool place.


    the legs, arms or abdomen.

    Stretch muscles and massage


    Usually occurs at the end of



    sustained exercise.

    Oral rehydration may be needed



    using a solution containing






    Medical attention should be sought if



    heat cramps are sustained for more



    than one hour.

    Heat exhaustion

    Symptoms of intense thirst,

    Move to a cool shaded room or air-


    weakness, discomfort, anxiety,

    conditioned place.


    dizziness, fainting and headaches.

    Apply cold wet sheet or cold water



    spray and use a fan if available.








    Severe and Life-Threatening




    Heat stroke

    Symptoms of confusion,

    Shift patient to the hospital


    disorientation, convulsions and





    Worsening of pre-

    This is especially of concern in

    Seek medical attention if you have a

    existing illness

    people with heart disease,

    chronic condition and develop new


    strokes, and respiratory disease.



    Symptoms can vary from mild to

    If any severe symptoms, refer to the hospital


    severe, depending on the disease.



    This can include but is not limited



    to chest pains, shortness of



    breath, dizziness or confusion.






    Table adapted from WHO Heat Health Action Plans Guidance, 2008


Copyright @ 2020 SNU | Blue Circle