Switzerland is experiencing more hot days and heatwaves due to climate change. Heat impacts our wellbeing and can be dangerous for our health. That is why it is important to take precautions during hot days, tropical nights and heatwaves.
Recommendations – how to protect yourself and others against the heat
High temperatures are a health hazard, especially for the elderly, those in need of care, people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, small children and babies. They need special protection during hot days. Those most at risk among the chronically ill are persons with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, diabetes, dementia or mental health disorders.
Furthermore: you should also protect yourself against hot weather when at work, whether inside or outside. The following link contains information (in French, German and Italian) from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO (available in german, french and italian).
Protect yourself and keep an eye on persons at risk
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun and stay in the shade and cool places.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity during the hottest time of day. Reschedule such activity to early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Drink regularly (min. 1.5 litre a day) and avoid alcoholic or sugary beverages.
- Eat smaller, lighter and more frequent meals.
- Consume fruits and vegetables with high water content and avoid fatty foods that are hard to digest.
- Consume salty foods and beverages to replace sweat-induced salt and mineral loss.
- Risk groups should discuss their diet with a healthcare professional.
- Wear light and loose-fitting clothing and use light bed linen.
- Take cold showers or baths. Cooling lotions, cold towels on the forehead and neck, plus cold foot and hand baths help cool your body.
- The measures you can take to keep your home cool differ depending on whether you live in an old or new building.
- Climate-proofing of buildings is needed to improve thermal comfort without air conditioning.
- Open shutters and windows early in the morning and in the evening when the outside temperature is lower than indoors.
- Ventilate if necessary.
- Shade or cover windows with external shutters or blinds during the day.
Turn unnecessary electronic devices off.
- Avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade.
- Cover your skin with light, loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing.
- Cover your head.
- Use sunscreen with an adequate sun protection factor (>= 30) and a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) and apply it regularly throughout the day.
- Bring enough fluids (e.g. bottle of water) with you.
- Keep an eye on risk groups and consult a doctor or contact emergency services if symptoms of heat stress occur.
- If you need medication, establish with your doctor whether you should change the prescription.
- Never leave children or pets in parked cars!
- Give your pets enough water and place the water in the shade.
- The sunny weather lends itself to leisure activities, beware of accidents! Find out more here (in French, German and Italian): Sport & Bewegung – Aktiv ohne Unfall | BFU
Symptoms and procedure for heat stress
Heat is stressful for the body, as it seeks to offset high temperatures by evaporating sweat. Increased sweating can cause significant fluid and electrolyte loss and dilated blood vessels lower blood pressure. This puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and heat-induced conditions such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke or sunstroke can result.
This is why you need to take measures to keep your body cool and hydrated (see above).
- Weakness and fatigue
- Confusion, dizziness, impaired consciousness
- Muscle cramps
- Dry mouth
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
- High body temperature
- Heavy sweating
- Rapid pulse
If you or anyone else experience the above symptoms, do the following:
- Find a cool or shady area
- Lie down
- Cool yourself with damp towels
- Drink fresh water
- Have a drink with electrolytes (i.e. drinks with sodium, potassium, magnesium and glucose (for example apple juice diluted with water or sports drinks))
If you or someone else does not feel better after a short time, do not hesitate to call a doctor or 144!
Catalogue of measures for public authorities
Hitze-Massnahmen-Toolbox 2021 (PDF, 1 MB, 31.05.2021)Only available in German and French.
2021 Hitzeschutz für die Schweiz UniPress (PDF, 3 MB, 24.11.2021)Only available in German.
Last modification 21.08.2023