Kent transport

Kent Resilience Forum responds to Tier 4 heat warning

The heat health alert has been raised to level 4 for the first time, with temperatures on Monday and Tuesday next week (July 18-19) reaching 40C.

The government’s Level 4 alert says a severe heat wave could have impacts beyond health and social care with potential effects on transport systems, food, water, supply in energy and business.

Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) (a partnership of organizations and agencies working together to ensure a coordinated response to emergencies and other issues affecting Kent), is advising Kent residents to prepare and will support registrations of vulnerable people.

The very young, the elderly, and those with health conditions such as heart and lung disease may be at greater risk, but it is wise for all residents to take precautions when heat levels rise to this point.

The hottest temperatures are expected on Monday and Tuesday, with highs of 40°C possible.

Health experts are asking people to watch out for friends, relatives and neighbors who may be less able to take care of themselves. Key ‘Beat the Heat’ tips include staying cool, staying hydrated and being prepared – for example, staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, regularly drinking cold drinks, such as water and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.

People are also advised to pack important supplies, such as medication, to minimize the need to travel during the heat of the day.

KCC Public Health Director Dr Anjan Ghosh is leading the KRF response. He said: “We are expecting record high temperatures and although we have never seen a level 4 alert before, the important thing is that we all prepare appropriately for the extreme heat – he It is essential that people think carefully about what they need to do to protect themselves, their families and particularly vulnerable people who may need additional assistance.

“The elderly, those with underlying health conditions and those with young children may all be particularly at risk. Remember though that these heat levels can pose risks to all of us, so be prepared. Avoid traveling if you can, especially in the heat of the day. If you must travel, plan ahead and check for traffic issues. Take plenty of water with you, allow extra time for stops, and think about any medications you might need if your trip takes longer than expected.

Top tips for staying safe in hot weather include:

  • watch out for those who struggle to keep cool and hydrated – the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  • keep cool inside by closing the curtains in rooms that face the sun – and remember that it can be cooler outside than inside
  • drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
  • never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children, or pets
  • check that fridges, freezers and fans are working properly
  • try to protect yourself from the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when UV rays are strongest
  • walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat, if you must go out in hot weather
  • avoid physical exertion during the hottest hours of the day
  • be sure to take water with you if you are traveling
  • be careful and be sure to follow local safety advice if you go into the water to cool off
  • check that the medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging

The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) will continue to monitor any heat-related illnesses and work closely with the Met Office, NHS and other government departments to assess the impacts of this hot weather.

People are asked not to go to A&E or call 999 unless it is an emergency. When in doubt, NHS111 can help you get the right treatment.

Dame Eileen Sills, NHS Kent and Medway Chief Nursing Officer, said: ‘While we love the sun, we know it can have adverse effects on your health, particularly for young people, our elderly residents and those who are the most vulnerable. By taking simple precautions, such as staying hydrated and finding shade during the hottest times of the day, you can significantly reduce the risk of becoming ill and needing NHS services. May I also ask you, if appropriate, to check on your vulnerable neighbours, families and friends.

If you feel unwell, unless it is an emergency, remember to use 111 as your first point of contact for medical assistance. By calling 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk you will be directed to the service that is right for you.

You can also visit our dedicated website – www.stopthinkchoose.co.uk – which lists local services, such as pharmacies and emergency treatment centres.

More information on what KCC is doing to protect the people of Kent can be found at www.kent.gov.uk/heatwave

Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at UKHSA, said:

Temperatures in England next week are set to reach record highs, and it’s important that we all know how to stay well in the hot weather. Monitor vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors to make sure they stay hydrated, stay cool, and know how to keep their homes cool.

Professor Penny Endersby, chief executive of the Met Office, said:

This is the first time we have issued a national red severe weather warning for extreme heat and the first time 40C has been forecast in the UK. In this country, we tend to treat a hot spell as a chance to go play in the sun. It’s not that kind of weather.

We have seen when climate change has brought unprecedented severe weather events around the world that it can be difficult to make the best decisions because nothing in our life experiences has led us to know what to expect.

More information on the common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be found on NHS.UK.

The UKHSA’s ‘Beat the Heat’ checklist identifies the appropriate steps people can take to protect themselves during periods of hot weather.