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Provider Engagment Network

Supporting health and social care providers in Devon


Heatwave Planning

Heat Health Watch


Heat-Health Watch Period commenced on 1 June 2018 and will run until the 15 September 2018.  The Met Office (link here) monitor the situation and periodically send weather updates / predictions to nominated Devon County Council Officers.

The ‘Heat-Health watch’ system comprises of five levels of response, based on regional threshold day and night-time temperatures as defined by the Met Office.

Threshold temperatures for the South West region are 30 degrees C daytime and 15 degrees C night-time.

Level 0: Long-term planning to reduce risk from heatwaves – Long-term planning includes year-round joint working to reduce the impact of climate change and ensure maximum adaptation to reduce harm from heatwaves. This involves influencing urban planning to keep housing, workplaces, transport systems and the built environment cool and energy efficient. Long‑term heatwave planning is a key consideration highlighted in the National Adaptation Programme (NAP), which sets out actions to address the risks identified in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Level 1: Heatwave and summer preparedness – Summer preparedness runs from 1 June to 15 September when a Level 1 alert will be issued. The heatwave plan will remain at Level 1 unless a higher alert is triggered. During the summer months, social and healthcare services need to ensure that awareness and background preparedness are maintained by implementing the measures set out in the heatwave plan. (THIS IS OUR CURRENT LEVEL).

Level 2: Heatwave is forecast – Alert and readiness – This is triggered as soon as the Met Office forecasts that there is a 60 per cent chance of temperatures being high enough on at least two consecutive days to have significant effects on health. This will normally occur 2 to 3 days before the event is expected. As death rates rise soon after temperature increases, with many deaths occurring in the first two days, this is an important stage to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave.

Level 3: Heatwave action – This is triggered as soon as the Met Office confirms that threshold temperatures have been reached in any one region or more.  This stage requires specific actions targeted at high-risk groups.

Level 4: National emergency – This is reached when a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside health and social care, such as power or water shortages, and/or where the integrity of health and social care systems is threatened. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in the high-risk groups and will require a multi sector response at national and regional levels.

The decision to go to a Level 4 is made at national level and will be taken in light of a cross-government assessment of the weather conditions, co-ordinated by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (Cabinet Office).

To provide up-to-date guidance and advice on a potential heatwave, the Heatwave Plan and associated Leaflets can be found below, these documents can also be found here:

High-risk factors and vulnerable groups of people
There are certain factors that increase an individual’s risk during a heatwave, these include:

  • older age: especially over 75 years old, or those living on their own who are socially isolated, or in a care home
  • chronic and severe illness: including heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory or renal insufficiency, Parkinson’s disease or severe mental illness.  Medications that potentially affect renal function, the body’s ability to sweat, thermoregulation (eg psychiatric medications) or electrolyte balance (diuretics) can make this group more vulnerable to the effects of heat
  • infants are vulnerable to heat due to immature thermoregulation, smaller body mass and blood volume, high dependency level, dehydration risk in case of diarrhoea
  • homeless people (those who sleep in shelters as well as outdoors) may be at increased risk from heatwaves. Higher rates of chronic disease (often poorly controlled), smoking, respiratory conditions, substance dependencies and mental illness are more frequent homeless populations than in the general population. These risk factors increase the risks of heat related morbidity and mortality, on top of social isolation, lack of air conditioning, cognitive impairment, living alone and being exposed to urban heat islands
  • people with alcohol dependence and drug dependence often have poorer overall health and increased social isolation which can increase their risk of heat stress
  • inability to adapt behaviour to keep cool such as having Alzheimer’s, a disability, being bed bound, drug and alcohol dependencies, babies and the very young
  • environmental factors and overexposure: living in urban areas and south-facing top-floor flats, being homeless, activities or jobs that are in hot places or outdoors and include high levels of physical exertion, children and adults taking part in organised sports (particularly children and adolescents).


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