National Emergency declared due to heatwave
A national emergency has been declared, with a red warning for extreme heat issued for the first time for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday – when temperatures could hit an unprecedented 40°C.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) raised its heat health warning to Level 4 – a “national emergency’ today, Friday 15th July. This is the first time this level has been issued since the Heatwave Plan for England was introduced in 2004.
Top tips for staying safe in hot weather include:
- look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
- stay cool indoors by closing curtains on rooms that face the sun – and remember that it may be cooler outdoors than indoors
- drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
- never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
- check that fridges, freezers and fans are working properly
- try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest
- walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
- avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day
- make sure you take water with you if you are travelling
- take care and make sure to follow local safety advice if you are going into the water to cool down
- check medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging
The government’s Level 4 alert indicates that a severe heatwave could have impacts beyond health and social care with potential effects on transport systems, food, water, energy supplies and businesses.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will continue to monitor any heat-related illness and work closely with the Met Office, the NHS and other government departments to assess the impacts of this hot weather.
Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at UKHSA said: “Temperatures in England next week are likely to reach record levels, and it’s important we all know how to stay well in hot weather. Check up on vulnerable friends, family and neighbours to make sure they stay hydrated, keep cool and know how to keep their homes cool.”
Professor Penny Endersby, Chief Executive at the Met Office, said: “This is the first time we have issued a Red National Severe Weather Warning for extreme heat and the first time 40°C has been forecast in the UK. In this country we’re used to treating a hot spell as a chance to go and play in in the sun. This is not that sort of weather.
“We have seen when climate change has driven such unprecedent severe weather events around the world that it can be difficult for to make the best decisions because nothing in our life experiences has led us to know what to expect.”
More information on the common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke are available on NHS.UK.
UKHSA’s ‘beat the heat’ checklist identifies suitable actions people can take to protect themselves during periods of hot weather.
Read the ‘staying safe in extreme heat blog’ for advice on how to stay well in hot weather.