Newsthink: Heatwaves

Explore the growing impact of heatwaves – in the UK and around the world – with this Newsthink resource. 

A thermostat in a window during a blazing hot day.
Quick activity
Geography, Tutor time, PSHE, Citizenship
Disasters and emergencies, First aid and the bystander effect, Humanitarianism and the Red Cross, Newsthink

Help your learners understand what a heatwave is and why they are becoming more common. Learn about the risks associated with heatwaves and how to prepare for high temperatures. 

Learners will also consider whether the increased risk posed by more frequent and hotter heatwaves is the same all over the world, and which countries, communities and individuals are the most vulnerable. 

Learning objectives 

  • Learn about the definitions and dangers of heatwaves. 
  • Apply understanding of how extreme heat events can impact people's lives, particularly vulnerable communities.
  • Share thoughts and ideas on which aspects of a heatwave's effects are most significant.


How do I use this resource?

Download the PowerPoint and teacher notes to deliver the activities. Use one, some or all the activities, as suits you. Each one can be done in ten to fifteen minutes. 

Embed this activity into your lessons or use it in assembly or tutor time to engage learners with current events and humanitarian news.

The level of explanation and the length of the session can be adapted to suit the age of your learners.

Make use of the extensive notes on the PowerPoint slides and links to further useful resources on the topic.

Resource overview

  1. Use the ‘see, think, feel’ framework to explore and discuss the photos depicting London during a heatwave and International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) volunteers establishing an emergency water supply in Peru.
  2. Help learners consider their main concerns related to heatwaves and create a five-point plan to prepare for an upcoming heatwave. Encourage them to share personal perspectives and appreciate others’ viewpoints. 
  3. Debate the following statements: “The impact on people’s physical health is the most significant and troubling aspect of heatwaves” and “The impact of heatwaves will be felt equally in all parts of the world”. 
  4. Make connections between heatwaves and climate change. Look at examples of how the Red Cross support vulnerable communities affected by climate change, including heatwaves.  


Learn more 

Visit the Red Cross website for more information on heatwaves, including links to first aid advice, information on wildfires and droughts, and how to prepare for a heatwave. 

Widen learners’ knowledge of the impact of climate change through the Newsthink resources on Amazon wildfires and Hurricane Dorian

Explore the anxiety attached to climate change and how to prepare and cope with heatwaves further with our Weather Together teaching resources: a toolkit to teach 10-16-year-olds how to prepare for and cope with extreme weather events, including resources on flood risk, how to prepare for the next heatwave, and eco-anxiety.