Sunday, September 24, 2023

Fierce Heatwave Prompts Health Warnings

Today, Monday 22nd July, temperatures in Amber Valley soared to 27 degrees, and it’s just warming up.

Public Health England and the Met Office issued a joint Level 2 Heatwave warning.  Level 2 is an alert for people to prepare and be ready for a heatwave.  It rises to Level 3 once the heatwave is happening.  A heatwave is defined as 3 consecutive days of temperatures exceeding the temperature threshold for a certain area.  The threshold varies by county.  The threshold for Derbyshire is 27 degrees.  Today is Day 1.

The heatwave is expected to continue through Thursday, giving us 4 days of intense heat. On Friday it is expected that thunderstorms will break the heat and cool things down, with rain predicted through the weekend.

Temperatures are expected to reach 37 degrees in parts of the country, with a strong possibility that the record temperature for July of 36.7 degrees (2015) will be broken on Thursday, which will be the hottest day.  Derbyshire is guaranteed 30 degrees.  There is advice that nightime temperatures may stay above 23 degrees.

There will also be heightened humidity, leading to temperatures feeling hotter than they are.  There will also be an increased pollen count.

Public Health England said, “hot weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients.”  But no-one is immune, and everyone is advised to be prepared and cautious.  A heatwave in America caused the heat-related death of 32 year old Superbowl Champion Mitch Petrus last week.  The temperature was 33 degrees.

The NHS and Asthma UK, and other health charities, have also issued warnings and pleas for asthmatics to be careful, and to take their prescribed medication, and for people to check on their neighbours, especially the elderly, unwell, asthmatics, those affected by pollen, and those with mental health problems.  The pleas include the advice that people with minor illnesses should call 101 rather than clog up emergency departments and doctor’s surgeries which will be needed to deal with heatwave related problems.


Expert Advice

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said,

It’s really important to take simple precautions like drinking plenty of water, using high-factor sunscreen and remembering to take allergy medication if you need it – as is making sure to check in on neighbours and loved ones who can suffer the most from heat and pollen.

Dr Andy Whittamore, from Asthma UK,  warned of deadly consequences for asthmatics,  “A toxic cocktail of hot humid weather and rising pollen levels this week could be extremely hazardous for the 5.4 million people in the UK with asthma, triggering deadly asthma attacks.

“Hot air and hay fever can cause people’s airways to narrow, leaving them struggling to breathe, with symptoms like coughing, wheezing, a tight chest and breathlessness.

“Hot weather can also increase the amount of pollutants, pollen and mould in the air which can trigger asthma symptoms.

“If you are worried about the weather or hay fever affecting your asthma, make sure you take your hay fever medicines, keep taking your regular preventer as prescribed by your doctor and carry your blue reliever inhaler at all times.

“We’d advise you to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration and plan any outdoor activities for earlier in the day when the air quality tends to be better.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “It’s easy to underestimate the threat posed by hot weather but the fact is our bodies are less able to cope with extremes of temperature as we get older.

“Age UK is advising anyone with an older family member or neighbour to keep in friendly touch with them and check they are OK.”


How Does Heat Affect The Body?

When the temperature is high, our bodies work extra hard to keep us cool.  This means that the blood is working hard on our skin and not so much on our organs, including the brain.  High heat, without taking precautions to help our bodies cope, can cause slower reaction times leading to accidents, stress on our internal organs, and a number of heat related illnesses including sunstroke, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash, sunburn, and dehydration.

These can be prevented by ensuring that we behave carefully, and are prepared.

It is important to remember that animals are affected by intense heat too.  Animals should not be left locked in cars.  They should be cooled and hydrated just as humans are.  It is also important to remember that the pavements get heated, and this can lead to injuries when animals walk on hot surfaces.


  • Check on elderly/asthmatic/vulnerable family, friends and neighbours
  • Carry a water bottle wherever you go – DRINK MORE THAN USUAL
  • Wear high factor sun cream
  • Take a hat, especially if bald or thin haired
  • Stay out of the sun when it is at its hottest – 12-3pm
  • Find shade where possible
  • Keep your house cooler by closing curtains
  • Avoid strenuous activity
  • Wear light coloured loose clothing
  • Take more showers/baths than usual, and use water to cool the skin
  • Do not leave children or animals in cars for any amount of time
  • Make sure pets and livestock have water
  • Leave water outdoors for other wildlife

Heatstroke Symptoms
High body temperature
Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
Fast strong pulse

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Heavy Sweating
Pale, cold, clammy skin
Fast weak pulse
Muscles cramps

Clare Washbrook

Current Editor-in-Chief News and magazine editor since 1995 Post-grads: Literature; Theatre; Journalism, Ethics & Law Community Affiliations: Belper Goes Green, Belper's WW1 Poppies, Amber Valley Solidarity No political party memberships/affiliations.

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