In Europe, 71,000 people died during the 2003 heat wave, with over 2000 of these excess deaths in England and Wales. For every 1°C above 23.3°C, an extra 75 deaths per week are estimated in the UK according to a Public Health England (PHE) report in 2015. Last year was the third consecutive warmest year since records began and as the earth’s climate is warming with the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves increasing, this presents a significant health risk to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, the chronically ill and those with heat sensitivity.
Dr Neil Maxwell and Kirsty Waldock (PhD student), both from the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine (SESAME), presented at PHE’s Annual Heatwave Seminar on 14 March 2017 that reviewed the Heatwave Plan in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths, reduce illness and hospital visits and increase public awareness. The seminar hosted delegates and speakers from PHE, NHS, Met Office, national climate change committees and charities, as well as regional council public health departments and universities from around the country. International representation also came from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.