Emergency advice


  1. Move them to a cool place.
  2. Call 999.
  3. Wrap in a cool, wet sheet until temperature reduces to 37.5 ºC.
  4. Replace with dry sheet.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is caused by a failure of the ‘thermostat’ in the brain which regulates the body’s temperature. This means the body is unable to cool down when it becomes too hot.

It could be caused by spending too much time in the sun, having a high fever, or from taking non-prescription drugs such as Ecstasy. It can also occur after heat exhaustion when sweating ceases.

Your priority is to cool them down as quickly as possible and get them to hospital.

Signs and symptoms

How to spot Heatstroke:

  • Headache, dizziness and discomfort   
  • Restlessness, confusion or unusual behaviour
  • Hot flushed and dry skin
  • A fast deterioration in the level of response
  • A full bounding pulse   
  • Body temperature above 40°C (104°F).

What to do

  1. Move them to a cool, shaded place and remove their outer clothing if possible.

  2. Call 999/112.

  3. Sit the individual down and wrap them in a cool, wet sheet. If there isn’t a sheet available fan them or sponge them down with cold water to keep them cool. If available, use cold packs placed in the armpits and around the neck.

  4. Once their temperature seems to have gone back to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry sheet.

  5. While waiting for help to arrive, keep checking their temperature, as well as their breathing, pulse and level of response.

    Be prepared to put them in the recovery position of they become unresponsive.

  6. If they start getting hot again, repeat the cooling process to lower their temperature. 

    Occasionlly, someone with heatstroke may experience seizures.  Be prepared to recognise and treat these as appropriate.

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