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Guidance Document

Heat-health action plans — Guidance


Climate change is leading to variations in weather patterns and an apparent increase in extreme weather events, including heat-waves. Recent heat-waves in Europe have led to a rise in related mortality but the adverse health effects of hot weather and heat-waves are largely preventable. Prevention requires a portfolio of actions at different levels, including meteorological early warning systems, timely public and medical advice, improvements to housing and urban planning and ensuring that health care and social systems are ready to act. These actions can be integrated into a defined heat–health action plan. This guidance results from the EuroHEAT project on improving public health responses to extreme weather/heat-waves, co-funded by the European Commission. It explains the importance of the development of heat–health action plans, their characteristics and core elements, with examples from several European countries that have begun their implementation and evaluation. Chapter 1 explains the importance of the development of heat–health action plans. Chapter 2 goes on to outline the physiological effects of heat on health, explains which population groups are most at risk and describes the interaction between heat and air pollution. The characteristics of an overall heat–health action plan are described in Chapter 3 and the core elements are dealt with in more detail. Each core element is illustrated with specific examples from European countries. More detailed information on key messages for target audiences and medical advice and treatment practices can be found in the annex.

Reference information

WHO Regional Office for Europe


adaptation, climate – adverse effects, guidelines, health care - organisation and administration, health planning, heat wave, policy-making, risk management

Climate impacts

Extreme Temperatures


Adaptation Measures and Actions


Health, Urban

Geographic characterisation


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