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New system to reduce heatwave fatalities through health alerts


Jun 1, 2023

A fire broke out in a village in east London in July 2022, burning down a house in the height of a summer heat wave. As a result, a new warning system has been implemented to alert the public to potentially dangerous high temperatures throughout England this summer. The UK Health Security Agency and Meteorological Service have collaborated to reduce illness and death among the most vulnerable as climate change makes heat waves more frequent.

Last summer, temperatures in the UK soared past 40 degrees Celsius for the first time and were the fourth warmest in the country. Coningsby, County Lynx recorded a maximum temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius on July 19th. While last year was the UK’s hottest year on record, the century has produced 15 of the top 20 and its 10 hottest years all occurred in the last 20 years.

The Fever Health Alert System is active year-round but mainly from June 1st to September 30th. The system offers local information and advice to the public and sends guidance directly to the NHS England, government and health professionals. People can register to receive alerts and specify the regions in which they wish to receive warnings.

The system employs a four-color warning system, with green signifying no health risk, yellow advising a risk to those particularly vulnerable (aged 65 and over and people with underlying medical conditions), amber signifying a wider impact on the population, and red indicating a serious risk to life that will impact all sectors.

Dr. Agostinho Souza, head of extreme events and health protection at the UK Health and Safety Agency, has stated that the warning system “will play a vital role.” Evidence suggests that heatwaves will become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting in the coming years and decades, he adds.

Will Lang of the Bureau of Meteorology warns that rising temperatures are already causing harmful effects, emphasizing that “we need to reduce it” as the UK grapples with severe weather and climate change. Health alerts, he adds, will help save lives, protect property and the economy.

By Editor

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