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Heat-health alert issued by UK Health Security Agency

With high temperatures forecast for much of the country this week, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a heat-health alert.

With high temperatures now forecast to last throughout the weekend, UKHSA has extended the current heat health alert.

The heat-health alert is now in place from midday Tuesday 9 August until 11pm Sunday 14 August.

Think of the vulnerable

The public are urged to look out for family, friends and neighbours who may be more vulnerable during prolonged periods of hot weather – particularly elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions.

The UKHSA heat-health alert service is designed to help healthcare professionals manage through periods of extreme temperature. The service acts as an early warning system for periods of high temperatures that may affect the public’s health.

The alert will be in place from midday Tuesday 9 August to 6pm on Saturday 13 August for all regions of England.

Temperatures are not forecast to reach the record-breaking levels of the most recent heatwave but are expected to rise throughout the week, potentially reaching mid-30 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday in the South East, London, the South West, and the East and West Midlands.

Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UKHSA, Dr Agostinho Sousa said: “Temperatures will feel very warm again this week, particularly in southern and central parts of the country.

“We want everyone to enjoy the warm weather safely when it arrives but remember that heat can have a fast impact on health. It’s important to ensure that people who are more vulnerable – elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions – are prepared for coping during the hot weather.

“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating,” he added.

Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Tony Wardle, said: “Heatwave criteria look likely to be met for large areas of the UK later this week, with the hottest areas expected in central and southern England and Wales on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures could peak at 35⁰C, or even an isolated 36⁰C on Saturday.

“Elsewhere will see temperatures widely into the high 20s and low 30s Celsius later this week as temperatures build day-on-day through the week due to an area of high pressure extending over much of the UK.”

He warned that “coupled with the high daytime temperatures will be continued warm nights, with the mercury expected to drop to only around low 20s Celsius for some areas in the south.”

Increased risk of wildfires

High temperatures also present a risk of wildfires, especially after long dry periods. During the last heatwave, several urban areas were set alight by high temperatures. People with pre-existing heart and lung conditions such as asthma are most susceptible as breathing wildfire smoke may worsen their symptoms. Children and older people may also be susceptible to health impacts.

The Fire Service has advised that if wildfire smoke affects your area, avoid, or reduce your exposure to smoke by staying indoors with the doors and windows closed.

Where possible avoid smoky areas. If you should travel through a smoky area, ensure that the vehicle windows are closed and the air conditioning is switched to recycle or recirculate if possible.

Listen out for local news reports and information from the emergency services who will provide advice on the precautions you should take.

heat-health alert
Major incident was declared across London after ‘huge surge’ in fires and homes destroyed on UK’s hottest-ever day

The top ways for staying safe during hot weather

  • look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people who may also live alone, and those with underlying conditions 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
  • 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
  • check that fridges, freezers and fans are working properly
  • check medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children, or animals
  • take care and make sure to follow local safety advice if you are going into the water to cool down

Final thought

Pressure is increasing for our politicians to act over the climate crisis.

With the US President about so sign a Bill estimated to result in a 40% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions in the US by 2030, the future Prime Minister will need to meet with the President and will no doubt come under pressure to ditch any ‘pause’ to green levies promised as part of their leadership election campaigns.

The UK’s international leadership on this issue is critical for future generations’ survival. However, it seems that when the going gets tough, green credentials get thrown out the window for electoral purposes.

Younger people will not forgive the current Government should they not reinstate those green levies as soon as possible.

Further information

Read the UKHSA blog on staying safe in extreme heat.

Read more on the forecast from the Met Office.

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