University of Reading: Heat carries serious risk but UK not seeing heatwave yet

Despite the warm weather, the UK is not yet seeing temperatures that exceed the threshold to be defined as a heatwave

Dr Liz Stephens, Associate Professor in Climate Risks and Resilience at the University of Reading and jointly affiliated with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said:

“While the high temperatures this week do not meet the official criteria for a ‘heat wave’, it is a timely reminder that we need to raise awareness of how to reduce the severe impacts of extreme heat. Heat waves are the silent killers of climate change.

“Heat waves in the UK are becoming more frequent and more intense under climate change, and we could experience 40 degree temperatures within the next decade.”

Dr Claudia Di Napoli, a heat stress researcher at the University of Reading, said:

“Since the 1980s we have become more and more exposed to heat and its effects. We have clear evidence that the number of summer days with high levels of heat stress has increased across Europe.

“Although our bodies may adjust to such increases, heat continues to kill. Recent research shows that in Prague, for instance, the number of deaths due to heat has been at its highest in the last 10 years.

“Heat-related deaths are preventable and early warning systems are essential to that.”

The National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the globe launched the first ever global Heat Action Day to #beattheheat on Tuesday (14 June).

A recent report by the British Red Cross called for the UK government to prioritise heat risk planning, for example by mitigating heat risks in urban areas, and to support the people most vulnerable to extreme heat in advance of and during a heat wave.