Advice for vulnerable groups during a heatwave

Advice for groups that are more likely to be impacted by high temperatures and hot weather.

Heatwaves and high temperatures affect certain groups of people more than others but, awareness of who is most vulnerable is low.

Research carried out by the British Red Cross found one in three people in groups most likely to be vulnerable did not consider themselves to be vulnerable.

In the summer of 2022, the UK experienced record-breaking temperatures of 40.3 degrees Celsius, prompting the UK government to declare a state of national emergency due to high temperatures for the first time.

What groups are most vulnerable during heatwaves and hot weather?

Hot weather will affect people in different ways, and while we should all be taking precautions when temperatures rise there are certain groups who are more at risk than others.

Health, environmental and behavioural factors will mean certain groups are more affected by a heatwave than others.

These include:

  • someone aged over 65
  • teenagers, children and young people
  • someone with a chronic or underlying health condition
  • someone who is pregnant
  • someone who is on a low income
  • someone with a mental health condition
  • someone who is homeless
  • people who work outside in high-intense physical roles
  • people who live in high-rise buildings


Visit for more advice on vulnerable groups

How can I support vulnerable people during a heatwave or periods of hot weather?

If you are a member of a vulnerable group or know someone who is likely to be more affected by a heatwave or hot weather, it’s important you are prepared for how to cope in a heatwave.

Follow or share our advice for:

Health and first aid support during a heatwave

Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are the main causes of illness and death during a heatwave, while specific heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion also pose a risk.

It’s important to look out for signs of illness during a heatwave in yourself and others and that you take steps to ensure you’re prepared. If you have an underlying or chronic health condition, ensure you consult a medical professional for advice.

If an emergency does occur, make sure you know how to respond. Our online first aid skills include steps to help someone with:


Browse all first aid skills

Contact the support line

If you would like more information or advice for coping during a heatwave, you can contact the British Red Cross National Support Line. Call the support line on 0808 196 3651 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 8pm Wednesday.

A British Red Cross coronavirus support line volunteer talks on the phone while looking at a laptop and writing on a pad of paper.