Skip to content

Europe heatwaves 2024: protecting your health from the dangers of excessive heat

Many parts of the world are currently experiencing above-average temperatures with intense and prolonged heatwaves hitting Europe, India, Saudi Arabia and North America.

Last updated 24 June 2024

Several parts of Europe including Greece, Italy, the Canary Islands, Spain, Turkey and Cyprus are dealing with unusually hot weather and heatwaves with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees.

Level 3 heat alerts, the highest level, have been issued for the Italian cities of Rome, Perugia and Palermo while Greece has warned residents and tourists to prepare for extreme weather conditions with temperatures expected to reach record-breaking levels.

Foreign visitors have been reported to have died or as missing during Greece’s record-setting heatwave including British TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley.

The dangers of extreme heat

Extreme heat can be deadly. Studies have reported that 61,000 people died because of Europe’s record-breaking heatwave in 2023. And with the effects of climate change, it’s likely heatwaves will become more frequent and intense.

William Spencer, climate and first aid product manager at the British Red Cross, said: “Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and getting worse because of climate change. Sadly, we have seen cases already this year of the tragic impact high temperatures can have on human life.

“High temperatures make it harder for the body to cool itself and we all need to take care to manage the health risks of heat. If you are travelling to a country experiencing extreme heat, there are several steps you can take to keep yourself and others safe.”

Heat poses a serious risk to your health and it’s important to familiarise yourself with heat-related conditions such as heat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke.

William continued: “We would advise people to plan ahead for the effects of heat on their trip, making sure they know how to recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. “They should also avoid activities in the middle of the day when temperatures are highest.

“Other safety tips include wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water and drinking less alcohol. You can also help keep wherever you’re staying cool by keeping blinds and windows closed during the hottest parts of the day."

Heatwave checklist

Keep yourself safe with simple, easy-to-follow advice:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • limit physical activity to cooler parts of the day, such as morning or evening
  • wear sunscreen and take regular breaks indoors or in a shaded place to cool down
  • keep homes and workplaces cool (open windows when the air outside is cooler than the air inside – so mornings and evenings)
  • take a cool bath or shower if you feel too hot
  • wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes   

What should I do if I’m travelling to Europe?

If you’re travelling to Europe this summer, or any country that is at risk of a heatwave or extreme heat it’s important to make sure you are prepared:



Wildfires and thunderstorms

It’s not just the temperature that can pose a risk to your health, there is also the threat of wildfires and other extreme weather events like thunderstorms. Wildfires have already affected Greece and Turkey this year, with thunderstorms forecast for parts of northern Europe including France, Germany and the UK.

Make sure to familiarise yourself with our advice on staying safe during a:

More on heatwaves

A little boy aims a water pistol at the camera.

Beat the hot weather: top tips for staying cool

How to cope with heat: Learn how to keep cool in a heatwave with our top tips for cooling yourself down in hot weather.

content type Article estimated reading time 2 minutes
A thermometer on a very hot day, showing a very high temperature.

First aid for heatwaves

Hotter summers mean heatwaves and an increased risk of heatstroke. Here's what to look out for.

content type Article estimated reading time 3 minutes
People are evacuated during the Charon heatwave in Greece 2023.

Europe heatwave 2023: extreme heat spirals into wildfires

Southern Europe has been at the centre of sustained and unprecedented heatwaves for more than two weeks.

content type Article estimated reading time 4 minutes