Head of extreme events at Public Health England, Virginia Murray, has warned that the United Kingdom needs to take decisive measures to ensure that people stay fit and well during the UK’s first prolonged heatwave since 2006.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said: "The most important advice is to stay cool yourself, drink plenty of cool drinks - but look out for others, take care of the most vulnerable, take care of those who are very young, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses who may be particularly vulnerable to the heat and really to protect those as far as we can and to make sure we reduce the health impacts on them and the possible worrying level of increased deaths".
The impact of the heatwave is so severe that hospitals in the UK have reported a rise in A & E admissions, while shocking figures from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have indicated that the death toll for the first nine days of the heatwave in England alone is between 540 and 760 people.
Temperatures that have climbed above the 30 mark for days on end have prompted the Met Office to raise its warning level to ‘level-three’ for South West of England and the West of England, with level-three warnings already in place in the South East.
Level three warnings are issued when thermometers push past threshold temperatures for one day and the following night, with a 90% chance of the threshold being broken again the following day. The threshold varies from region to region, ranging from 30C in West Midlands to 32C in London.
Responding to the news that temperatures had climbed to 35C on the Northern Line tube, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted:
“Other countries are used to very hot summers, we are not ready for this. 35 degrees is pretty brutal and you need to be careful, particularly if you're frail”.
Mike Tipton, professor of human physiology at the University of Portsmouth, urged Brits to be vigilant and look out for signs that indicate our health could be affected by the prolongated heatwave. He said:
"As soon as people start to feel anything like light-headedness, feel that they're hyperventilating, if they've got a very rapid pulse, if they start to feel pins and needles in the fingers and around the limbs, slightly nauseous maybe, headaches, then really they need to stop any activity they're engaged in, move to the shade, sit down or lay down, preferably get help as well.
Great Britain is mostly unprepared for such hot conditions, judging by its lack of cooling centres, air conditioning, swimming pools and other heat-combating facilities.
In order to withstand peaking heatwave impact one has to follow some simple rules:
First of all, stay hydrated - drink cold water at regular intervals to keep your body hydrated. This will also help to regulate your body temperature.
During heatwave blazing period open your doors and windows only at nighttime and keep your curtains and blinds closed during daytime. Keep your home from overheating as much as possible. Try to stay in air-conditioned places at least for a few hours a day if possible.
Wear light clothing - see if your company is willing to abandon your dress code so that you can wear light cotton clothing, and stay calm and collected throughout the working day.
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