England’s heat wave: what is a level 4 national emergency? | weather in the UK

What is a Level 4 National Emergency?

The government first published a heatwave plan for England in 2004 following a devastating pan-European heatwave in 2003, and updated it in 2012. Level 4 is the highest of five levels (0-4) in the “heat-health alert system”. It is “reached when a heat wave is so severe and / or prolonged that its effects extend beyond health and social care, such as power or water shortages, and / or where the integrity of health and social systems is threatened”.

It is introduced when “a very severe heat wave which will last for a long period of time and will also affect transport, food, water, energy supplies, businesses and health and social services”.

Does that mean deaths are expected?

Yes, and not just among the vulnerable. The plan, published by the British Health Security Agency and the NHS, states that at level 4 “illness and death can occur among the healthy and the healthy and not just in high-risk groups”.

What else are they worried about?

Melting roads can cause congestion and leave people stranded in cars. Railways could span. Extreme heat in the London Underground could require bottled water to be supplied. Rising demand for electricity as people use air conditioning and fans, while heat reduces the system’s current carrying capacity because it is harder to cool conductors.

Water shortage is a fear, but if the supply network is lost, the water companies are obliged to supply no less than 10 liters per year. person a day, paying particular attention to the needs of vulnerable people, hospitals and schools.

What about the environment?

Smog and degraded air quality, toxic algae blooming in water and increasing risk of wildfires are among the concerns. Livestock and animals in markets and slaughterhouses will need greater ventilation, and the transport of livestock may be reduced. More pets can die if irresponsible owners leave them in enclosed enclosures with poor ventilation.

What does it change about the answer?

Level 4 means that the weather requires “a multi-sector response at national and regional level”. The decision to go to level 4 is made at national level and is made after an intergovernmental assessment of the weather conditions, coordinated by the Civil Contingency Secretariat in the State Office. A senior government department will be nominated – most likely the Department of Health and Social Care.

According to the plan, the efforts for health and social care providers are the same as for a level 3 alarm, which has already been in place for several days. These include visits or calls to people in high-risk categories, sending out health messages, checking the temperatures of wards and nursing homes, turning off unnecessary lights and equipment, and pulling out blinds and curtains. Community groups are asked to “check those you know are at risk” and “activate the community emergency plan”.

Which people are at high risk?

The heat wave plan is sometimes clumsily designed, but that’s what it says about high-risk groups in society: “Over 75, women living alone and in isolation, severe physical or mental illness; urban areas, south-facing top surface; alcohol and / or drug addiction, the homeless, babies and toddlers, more medication and overexertion ”. And in nursing homes and hospitals, those at greatest risk are described as: “over 75, female, frail, serious physical or mental illness; more drugs; babies and young children”.

What is the government’s message to the people?

It says: “Stay away from the sun. Keep your home as cool as possible – shading windows and closing them during the day can help. Open them when it’s cooler at night. Keep drinking fluids. If is someone you know, for example an elderly person living alone, who may be at particular risk, so make sure they know what to do. “

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