Government’s new heat alert system to warn elderly of danger to life

The elderly are among vulnerable people who will be warned of a risk to health under the UK’s new alert system this summer. Dangerous temperatures are expected to become more widespread and put additional pressure on the NHS.

In response, a colour-coded Heat Health Alerting (HHA) system has been launched as a collaboration between the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Met Office. It will provide region-specific information and advice direct to email addresses or the HHA platform to help individuals cope with extreme heat.

While the HHA system will operate throughout the year, the core season will run from June 1st to September 30th. Four different levels of temperature are included in the system, with three of them associated with a warning that can be issued:

  • Green - non-worrying temperatures. No alert will be issued.
  • Yellow - the vulnerable, including the elderly, may struggle to cope.
  • Amber - a more widespread threat to the general population.
  • Red - requires an emergency response, with all sectors expected to be affected.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Last year saw record high temperatures across England and evidence shows that heatwaves are likely to occur more often, be more intense and last longer in the years and decades ahead.

“It is important we are able to quantify the likely impacts of these heatwaves before they arrive to prevent illness and reduce the number of deaths.”

In the event of warnings being issued over high temperatures, there are ways to help elderly loved ones to cope. Health officials recommend staying indoors with the curtains closed; avoiding caffeine and alcohol; and not exerting oneself physically during the hottest parts of the day.

Reminding older relatives to stay out of the sun, drink more fluids and cool their feet in a bucket of water can make a difference. Overheating can lead to dehydration, strokes and blood clots, as well as heart and breathing problems, so being proactive during hot weather is important.

Will Lang, head of situational awareness at the Met Office, said: “The updated health alerts will be complementary to, and run alongside our National Severe Weather Warnings, and will play a pivotal role in helping save lives, protect property and the economy as we all work to tackle adverse weather and climate change going forward.”

Photo credit: Unsplash/Jarosław Kwoczała

Back to help & advice

Find your nearest Barchester care home

With over 200 care homes in the UK, there's always a Barchester care home near you.