The Heatwave Plan for 2014 is based around the Met Office Heat-Health Watch alert system which alerts the public and health and social care services to forecast and actual severe hot weather in different parts of the country, so that appropriate action can be taken.
It is a joint plan from Public Health England (PHE), NHS England, the Department of Health and the Local Government Association, with input from the Voluntary and Community Sector and other stakeholders. It details the actions that can be taken by health and social care professionals, the public and others before and during periods of hot weather.
Dr Angie Bone, head of the Extreme Events Section at PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said:
Although a hot summer might be welcomed by many people after all the rain this winter, it’s important to remember that hot weather can have a harmful effect on health.
During the prolonged period of hot weather in July last year, PHE issued precautionary advice and reported small increases in heat related illnesses in line with seasonal expectations for the hot weather, using PHE surveillance systems including mortality data, consultation data from GPs and emergency department attendances.
This is why we release a Heatwave Plan each year, so that health and social care professionals and the public are as prepared as they can be to minimise the harmful effects of hot weather.
Dr Bone added:
Much of the advice that will help people during prolonged periods of hot weather is pretty common sense, such as drinking plenty of water, avoiding sun exposure between 11am and 3pm and planning strenuous activity for cooler times of the day, if possible.
But it’s equally important that health and social care organisations, councils and those who work with vulnerable people consider the potential impacts hot weather can have and carefully plan around that.
Our hope is that this plan will aid both professionals and the public so that we can all enjoy summer safely.