Beat the heat - coping with heat

Stay cool at home

Why is this important?

Even during a relatively cool summer, 1 in 5 homes in England are likely to overheat.

Know how to keep your home cool

Why is this important?

Some people are particularly at risk from heat and for them a hot home can worsen existing health conditions. Many of the deaths during heatwaves occur at home.

What can I do?

In preparation for warmer weather, use our simple checklist to find out if your home is at risk of overheating and find out what you can do if there is a problem. You can download the checklist from the PHE heatwave webpage.

Shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight, external shutters or shades are very effective, while internal blinds or curtains are less effective but cheaper.

Metallic blinds and dark curtains can make a room hotter.

Open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside, for example, at night. Try to get air flowing through your home, if possible.

Turn off the central heating, and lights and electrical equipment that aren’t in use.

Use electric fans if the temperature is below 35°C, but do not aim the fan directly at the body and ensure you stay hydrated with regular drinks.

Check that fridges and freezers are working properly to minimise internal heat gains.

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot home that is affecting your health or someone else’s health, seek medical advice.

You may be able to get help from the environmental health department within your local authority; they can do a home hazard assessment.

Look out for others

Why is this important?

The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm.

Those who may be more at risk from the effects of heat include the following:

  • older people, especially those over 75
  • babies and young children
  • people with a serious chronic condition, particularly dementia, heart,
  • breathing or mobility problems
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control (for example, diuretics, antihistamines, beta-blockers and antipsychotics
  • people who are already ill and dehydrated (for example, from gastroenteritis)
  • people who misuse alcohol or drugs
  • people who are physically active (for example, soldiers, athletes, hikers and manual workers)
  • homeless people

Clinical vulnerabilities that are also risks for heat-related harms are:

  • high blood pressure
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • heart and lung conditions (cardiovascular disease)
  • conditions that affect the flow of blood in the brain (cerebrovascular disease)
  • kidney disease

What can I do?

Look out for neighbours, family or friends who may be isolated and unable to care for themselves; make sure they are able to keep cool during a heatwave.

If you need to provide direct care to someone at risk from the hot weather, follow the guidance on providing care for others.

Stay out of the heat, cool yourself down, keep your environment cool or find somewhere else that is cool if possible.

Get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications.

Make sure medicines are stored below 25°C or in the fridge (read the storage instructions on the packaging).

Carry on taking all prescribed medicines unless advised not to by a medical professional. But be aware that some prescription medicines can reduce your tolerance of heat.

Paracetamol (and aspirin) should not be used to treat heatstroke due to increased risks of blood clotting and effects on the liver.

Be alert and if someone is unwell or needs further help.


Beat the heat checklist

This helps you to identify if a home may be at risk of overheating and if occupants there may be at risk of ill health from overheating. The second part details how to reduce overheating and where to get help.

Download the beat the heat checklist