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N35. Employee Factsheet: Heatstroke

During a heatwave, staff should be alert to the specific symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Vulnerable people (including those over 75 or under 2, those with chronic illness, such as diabetes, kidney or heart conditions, and those on certain types of medication such as diuretics) should be monitored to ensure that they have adequate support.

In the community, people living in top-floor flats, {{org_field_name}}less and people with activities or jobs that are in hot places or outdoors and include high levels of physical exertion are also at increased risk. Anyone in a high risk category who is living alone is likely to need at least daily contact, whether by care workers, volunteers or informal carers. Older people, especially older women, people with chronic or serious illness, mobility problems, or severe mental illness, those who are on certain medications, or those living in accommodation that is hard to keep cool, may need extra care and support.

Symptoms develop more quickly when associated with physical activity. This type of heatstroke is sometimes referred to as “exertional heatstroke” and is more common in young, active people.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of body fluids and salts after being exposed to heat for too long. It is often seen as a first stage of heatstroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

Symptoms can appear very rapidly. If symptoms appear, the person should be moved promptly to somewhere cool and given fluids, preferably water, to drink. They should start to feel better within half an hour. If they do not improve an ambulance should be called.

Where a person has existing health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney or heart conditions, emergency first aid or medical advice should be sought immediately.


In some cases a person can go on to suffer heatstroke, especially where the weather is very hot and if they are dehydrated.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

It should be remembered that heatstoke is a potentially fatal condition and should always be treated as a medical emergency. If it is suspected that a person has heatstroke, 999 should be called immediately and a request made for an ambulance.

While waiting for the ambulance:

Do not immerse them fully in cool water. It is best to wait for emergency medical assistance before such an action is taken as it could increase blood pressure dangerously.

If they are unconscious and vomiting, move them into the recovery position by turning them on their side and ensuring their airway is clear.

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