New heat health alert system to combat climate change risks in England

England is set to introduce a new alert system this summer to warn the public about high temperatures that could adversely affect their health. The system, a collaboration between the UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office, aims to reduce illnesses and fatalities among the most vulnerable populations. As climate change is expected to increase the frequency of heatwaves, this initiative is particularly timely.

Last summer, UK temperatures exceeded 40C for the first time, with Coningsby, Lincs, setting a new record at 40.3C on July 19. The year was the UK’s warmest on record, with 15 of the top 20 warmest years occurring this century. Notably, all of the 10 hottest years have taken place within the past two decades.

The Heat Health Alert system, operational from June 1 to September 30, will provide regional information and advice to the public, as well as sending guidance directly to NHS England, the government, and healthcare professionals. The system will feature four alert colours, with green signifying no health risk.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UK Health Security Agency, emphasised the importance of the alert system, stating that it would play “a vital role” in preparing for the increasing likelihood of heatwaves. “It is important we can quantify the likely impacts of these heatwaves before they arrive to prevent illness and reduce the number of deaths,” he said.

Will Lang, from the Met Office, noted that the effects of human-induced climate change are already evident in UK summers, with a marked increase in the “frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme heat events over recent decades.” According to Lang, the health alerts will not only help save lives but also protect property and the economy as the country collectively works to tackle adverse weather and climate change.

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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