When it is hot, it is important to pay extra attention to those who are unable to take good care of themselves. This includes the elderly, people with chronic conditions and young children. For these groups, heat can lead to health problems more quickly. The National Heatwave Plan helps prevent this as much as possible.

The National Heatwave Plan is a warning system. RIVM uses the plan to inform organisations, healthcare and other professionals and informal carers about the expected heat. They can take the heat into account when giving care and support to vulnerable groups. This way, discomfort and health problems caused by heat can be reduced and, where possible, prevented. When the National Heatwave Plan has been activated, the message for everyone is: take care of each other and pay extra attention to vulnerable groups like the elderly and young children.

When is the National Heatwave Plan activated?

The National Heatwave Plan is activated when a period of lasting heat or extremely high temperatures are expected. How hot it is during the day is not the only factor in this decision. The temperature at night, the wind chill factor and humidity also play an important role.

The National Heatwave Plan is not the same as a heat wave

The National Heatwave Plan is activated based on the weather forecast. A heat wave can only be identified afterwards. A heat wave is defined as temperatures of 25 °C or higher in De Bilt on at least five days in a row, with at least three days hotter than 30 °C.

Warnings per province – not all regions are equally hot

Not all regions of the Netherlands are equally hot. Temperatures can vary significantly from one region to the next. It is therefore also possible to activate the National Heatwave Plan for individual provinces.


The National Heatwave Plan was established in 2007 in collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, RIVM, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Dutch Red Cross, the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters, and several healthcare sector organisations. The agreements made at that time regarding the collaboration, criteria and the warning system itself have not changed since that time. In 2015, the possibility of activating the National Heatwave Plan in an individual region or in one or more provinces was added. The information about the National Heatwave Plan on this website was updated in 2023. The National Heatwave Plan has been activated nearly every year since 2007. In the summer of 2022, it was activated for the 17th time.

Prospects for the future

KNMI’s 2014 climate scenarios and 2021 Climate Report show that heatwaves will become both more common and more intense in the Netherlands in the future. Also, the Public Health Foresight Study carried out in 2020 showed that more people will belong to groups that are vulnerable to heat. The number of elderly, chronically ill and overweight people is expected to increase. As a result, interventions like the National Heatwave Plan will become more important to combat the health risks of heat stress.