The trigger threshold for a heatwave varies by region, and in the South East the temperature is 31 degrees by day and 16 degrees by night. These temperatures can have a significant effect on people's health if they last for at least two days and the night in between.
Our plan sets out East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust’s organisational response to a heatwave incident.
As the effects of global warming are felt in the UK and with recent research to suggest that a heatwave will be felt every year by the 2080s, it is important that the NHS are prepared to manage the effects of heat on the population.
The heatwave felt in the UK in 2003 resulted in 4% extra deaths in the UK and in France, where the heatwave was even more severe, over 15000 extra deaths were attributed to the weather conditions.
The health effects of a heatwave are often felt very quickly and normally within two to three days of the onset of high temperatures.
In addition to the medical effects of heat experienced in a heatwave such events are often linked to poor air quality causing an increase in respiratory illness. Heat is also linked to a rise in accidents and alcohol fuelled incidents.
The plan includes risk assessments and temperature monitoring templates.
The key message for preventing heat related illness is to keep cool.
Stay Out of the Heat
- Keep out of the sun between 1100 and 1500.
- If you have to go out in the heat walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
- Avoid extreme physical activities.
- Wear loose fitting cotton clothes – light colours are best.
Cool yourself down
- Have plenty of cold drinks but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat cold foods such as salads and fruit.
- Take a cool shower.
- Sprinkle water on your face and skin or damp cloth on your face and back of the neck.
- Cheap water sprays bottles from garden centres are ideal!
Keep the Environment Cool
- Keep windows and curtains that are exposed to the sun closed during the day and open them at night when the temperatures have dropped.
- Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment
- Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as these absorb heat.
- If possible move temporarily to cooler rooms or areas.