UK heatwave health warning

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Public health officials have issued an urgent warning following the forecast by the Met Office of a two-day heatwave.

People have been asked to remain indoors after the forecast stated that it would be hotter than Barbados during this two-day period.

Care homes and hospitals have been placed on alert.

Public health officials are showing particular concern for Muslims who are currently fasting for Ramadan.

A Level Two alert has been issued which is when temperatures are set to reach between 84F (28C) and 89F (32C) and do not drop below 59F (15C) and 64F (18C) overnight.

People based in the East, South East and Midlands have been asked to stay out of the sun between the hours of 11am and 3pm. They have also been advised to turn off any non-essential lighting and electrical equipment in a bid to reduce excess heat, and should wear a light scarf or hat when going outdoors. People should keep their curtains closed, sleep in a cooler room, eat salads, drink lots of water and avoid extreme physical activity.

Schools have been asked to monitor overweight children and urge youngsters to play in shaded areas. They have also been requested not to leave computers and printers on standby.

The heatwave period is expected to commence on Thursday and temperatures could rise to around 89F (32C) by Friday.

By Sunday, storms should bring fresher weather, but the heat will return next week. The thunderstorms will be a result of the movement of warm air moving from Spain, which will bring with it humid and sticky conditions.

The South West of the country may experience flash floods, which will lead to difficult driving conditions.

The Met Office has received criticism for issuing dual downpour and heatwave warnings for certain areas. However, the forecasters stated that the two events ‘were not mutually exclusive’.

Health officials have warned people not to take these warnings lightly. Records indicate that during July 2009, when temperatures reached 89F (32C) during a four-day heatwave, 300 people died. During August 2003, 2139 people died when temperatures reached a record high of 101F (38.5C). This prompted the NHS to draft a ‘heatwave’ plan with emergency services and local authorities.

A director at Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said that the importance of maintaining a cool body temperature during hot weather is extremely important for older people, particularly if it set to occur two days in a row.

Council staff intend calling and paying additional visits to the vulnerable.

The chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Katie Hall, said that the deaths that occur during extreme heat periods each year can be avoided and councils are determined to reduce this toll.

Train commuters will suffer during this time as train companies may implement speed restrictions as the rails buckle.

Dog owners have been asked not to leave their dogs in their cars.

Image Credit: Simon Cousins

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