A heatwave is an extended period of extreme heat and is often accompanied by high humidity. The intensity of heatwaves is rising due to climate change. Therefore, they are causing illnesses and even high deaths from dangerously high temperatures.

These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take proper precautions. Thus, this Real Research insight is a representation of the public thoughts regarding heatwaves.


  • Amongst different groups of people, seniors aged 65 and above are the most vulnerable during a heatwave.
  • 53.47% say they spend more time at home during a heatwave. More so, 36.37% state that they were once absent from work due to a heatwave.
  • The most critical illness caused by a heatwave is heat-related illness such as exhaustion, fainting, etc.
  • Additionally, the most important lifestyle to follow during a heatwave is to avoid outdoor activity.

Heatwaves Mostly Affect Seniors Aged 65 and Above

The Real Research online survey application results show that seniors aged 65 and above are the most vulnerable group during a heatwave. Naturally, seniors are mostly described as immunocompromised people. This is due to the body not being able to respond appropriately to internal and external stressors such as heatwaves.

Hence, the majority of respondents (36.55%) note that seniors aged 65 and above are the most vulnerable. Moving on, 19.49% think that ‘Kids’ are the most vulnerable to heatwave health impacts. Also, 6.97% say patients with cardiovascular disease suffer the most. Meanwhile, 24.56% say they are not sure.

Seniors aged 65+ are most vulnerable to heatwaves
Figure 1: Seniors aged 65+ are most vulnerable to heatwaves

Most People Have Once Been Absent From Work Due to Heatwaves

Even more, the effects of heatwaves on humans affect the livelihoods and wellbeing of both urban and non-urban communities. Thereby, heatwaves cause a lot of disruptions in people’s daily routines. The Real Research online survey application results show that 36.37% of the respondents have been absent from work due to heatwaves.

Heatwaves affect work schedules
Figure 2: Heatwaves affect work schedules

Adding on to the effects of heatwaves on humans, 22.59% say that ‘I have been late to work. Additionally, 10.34% answered that ‘I’ve canceled or broken an appointment’. On the other hand, 30.70% of the survey participants say ‘I’ve never had a problem due to a heatwave’.

The Real Research survey sought to know if time spent at home changes due to a heatwave. As a result, 53.47% of the survey respondents note that they spend more time at home during a heatwave. To add on, 18.55% say they spend less time at home. ‘I stay at home more or less similar to before the heatwave’ (10.57%) and ‘I’m not sure’ (17.40%).

Exposure to high temperatures causes a rise in heat-related illness. Therefore, health professionals and governments must adjust their planning and interventions to account for increasing heat waves’ effects on human health. To begin with, 40.28% say heatwaves mostly cause health-related illnesses such as exhaustion and fainting.

Moving on, 20.14% say the most critical illness from heatwaves is a skin disease (sweat rash, eczema, dermatitis, etc). Following after, 5.03% say digestive disorder (anorexia, indigestion, diarrhea, etc). Also, 2.51% state that the most critical illness caused by heat is cardio-cerebrovascular (angina, heart attack, stroke, etc).

Exhaustion and fainting are the most critical illnesses caused by heatwaves
Figure 3: Exhaustion and fainting are the most critical illnesses caused by heatwaves

In the midst of a climate crisis, the world is preparing for ways on how people can avoid illnesses caused by heat. Thus, air conditioners are also amongst the most manufactured gadgets for use during extreme heat conditions. Real Research asked people if they used air conditioners even when sleeping at night during a heatwave.

‘I did not use the air conditioner when sleeping at night (44.13%). 15.08% say ‘I set up sleep mode which turns off after an hour or two. ‘I woke up from my sleep and repeatedly turned the air conditioner on and off (6.68%).  Lastly, (9.51%) say ‘I used the air conditioner all night long.

Also, aside from heat-related illness, there are many places most affected by heatwaves. Results show that the most affected place is the outdoor working space (40.97%). Following after, are the rice paddy and fields (12.80%). Then, playgrounds and parks (5.08%).

Avoid Outdoor Activities During a Heatwave

During a heatwave, there are important lifestyle recommendations required to follow so as to avoid the impact of heatwaves on human health. The majority of respondents (33.51%) think that avoiding outdoor spaces is the most important lifestyle rule to follow.

Additionally, 28.19% say ‘Drink enough water. To add on, 8.54% advise to ‘Take a break in a cool place when the symptoms of heat-related illness occur such as headache, dizziness, and nausea. Lastly, 1.45% say ‘Maintain standard room temperature and ventilate’.

Avoid outdoor activities during a heatwave
Figure 4: Avoid outdoor activities during a heatwave

In conclusion, the global climate is changing and heat waves are increasing.  Hot days are also associated with increases in heat-related illnesses including fainting, cardiovascular, respiratory complications, etc. More so, results drawn from the survey show that a heatwave can be especially harmful to outdoor workers, children, and the elderly.


Survey TitleA Survey on the Perception of Global Heatwave and its Impact on Life and Health
DurationAugust 12 – August 18, 2021
Number of Participants60,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating CountriesAfghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong-Kong), China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco,Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.