Heat waves have significant impacts on both ecosystems and human beings. This is compounded by future climate scenarios which indicate more frequent and severe heat waves in certain locations. There are members of communities that are more vulnerable to the effects of heat waves such as the elderly and infants and this presents particular challenges for the future. Hence it is timely to undertake a critical and systematic review of the effects of heat waves and mechanisms to mitigate their effects. There are significant implications associated with heat waves such as extra power consumption, community health, water consumption and quality, and additional costs within the natural and built environments. One of the critical issues is peak electricity demand which is closely linked with factors such as building occupant health and costs to consumers. Utilization of renewable and sustainable energy helps to mitigate this specific issue. Common policy instruments to deal with risks associated with heat waves include heat impact assessment and heat warning system. Similarly, building design should take impacts of heat waves into consideration such as dwelling adaptation. This review provides useful inputs to both policy making and industry practice on improving the resilience of urban and regional areas in the event of extreme weather conditions such as heat waves in the future.