This summer, we’re all going to be prepared for the heat.
Well, at least a little bit more prepared, if the government’s new colour-coded heat-health alerts goes to plan.
The UK’s health security agency (UKHSA) and the Met Office have worked together to create the Heat Health Alerting system (HHA), which will run from June 1 until September 15.
A joint dynamic risk assessment will be carried out between the Met and the UKHSA, and the an appropriate alert will be issued.
While the heat-health alert system has been in place since 2004, this summer it will be about impact-based alerting, as users will be able see what kind of effects the extreme weather will bring.
Not only will this empower the general public to be more aware about just how difficult the weather conditions are that day, it will look at how warm weather could impact public health in England, and try to preempt pressures on the NHS.
Regional day-time and night-time maximum temperature forecasts will be monitored and the system will work alongside the Met Office’s National Severe Weather Warning service.
How will the new alerts work?
Anyone who wants to receive the alert has to register, and they can specify the areas they want to know about.
You can register to receive the email alerts here.
It will include information like the main weather conditions expected in the coming days, an outline of what impacts might be expects, an overview of the region and links to extra information, advice and guidance.
Red is (of course) the highest level of warning meaning there is a “significant risk to life” to everyone – including the healthiest among us. This is a heat emergency.
Amber means the consequences of the weather will probably be noticeable across the NHS, so there may have to be coordination to help look after people’s health.
Yellow will likely be activated if vulnerable people are at high risk.
Green – as you’d expect – means normal temperatures, with no health warnings.
A similar system will probably be rolled out in November but looking at the impact of cold weather.
Why is this so important?
It comes after 2022′s record-breaking heatwaves where temperatures reached 40C, and there was general concern for public health.
It’s important that we all stay aware of the changing weather conditions, as the climate crisis means heatwaves are only going to become more likely in the future, and will probably be more intense and last longer.
The UKHSA’s head of extreme events and health protection, Dr Agostinho Sousa, said: “It is important we are able to quantify the likely impacts of these heatwave before they arrive to prevent illness and reduce the number of deaths.”
Head of situational awareness at the Met Office, Will Lang, also explained the importance of the new alerts, saying: “The updated health alerts will be complementary to, and run alongside our National Severe Weather Warnings, and will play a pivotal role in helping save lives, protect property and the economy as we all work to tackle adverse weather and climate change going forward.
“It is only by working in close partnership with organisations like UKHSA that effective action can be taken when it matters.”