Reasons why Britain is not ready to deal with a severe heatwave

An unprecedented number of bushfires broke out across the UK on Tuesday as the country recorded its hottest day on record.

The London Fire Brigade dealt with more than 1,110 emergencies during its busiest day since the Second World War.

Thirteen places from Humberside to Bedford reported major accidents this week, with dozens of homes destroyed by fire.

The above data forms only part of the broader picture of the worsening crises, and notes that fires are caused by global warming and also contribute to it. So far this year, England and Wales have seen 442 bushfires, compared to 247 last year.

According to experts, the UK is largely unprepared compared to other countries for this type of heatwave because heat was not considered a problem before this century.

According to Phil Garrigan, who leads the National Major Incident Resilience Group within the National Fire Chiefs Council, unlike Spain and Greece, which have planes and helicopters that collect and distribute water in fires, the UK relies on third parties to do this type of work , including private sector companies.

According to Gargian, the government should consider in the future how to provide resources to meet the exponentially rising demand.

In 2019, the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government, warned that homes are far from ready to cope with flooding, water scarcity and warming.

The government has tried to address this problem, with new building regulations aimed at limiting the occurrence of excess solar heat storage indoors during the summer, as well as removing excess heat, but this is only the beginning.

This week the committee called on the government to ensure that ventilation, thermal insulation and external closures are installed in new and existing houses.

In that regard, Julie Godfroy, head of sustainability at the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, noted that “the government has taken a positive step by requiring new homes and residential buildings such as care homes to be designed and built in ways that make them can reduce the risks of heating.” .

“The government must now pay the same attention to other buildings, including existing houses, in order to protect the majority of the population. Measures may also include avoiding large areas of glass from the sun, installing shading devices such as blinds, and providing windows that allow good air flow throughout the home,” she added.

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Similarly, the Climate Change Committee also wants to clarify the limits of high temperatures in the workplace. It also wants to increase vegetation cover and water availability in the design of towns and cities, while ensuring that electricity grids and utilities can withstand heat.

Hospitals, doctors’ offices and other health institutions will also have to adapt to make it more tolerable.

“The funds simply don’t have the infrastructure they need to cope with this extreme weather, and this heatwave explains why the government needs to keep its promise to build new hospitals and invest more,” Acting Deputy Chief Executive Miriam Deakin said. head of NHS providers said. . of capital in mental health, community and ambulance care.”

“This week, hospitals had to scale back surgery because operating rooms were too hot, the government had to cool industrial cooling units and IT server rooms, and allowed some non-frontline staff to work from home,” Deakin reported.

She added that “a number of service providers have reviewed their clinical activities to assess the need to cancel appointments or group activities or move them to a virtual situation, particularly in community and mental health services.”

In a related development, rail chiefs issued a travel warning on Tuesday as services were canceled and lines closed in central, north and south-east England, as well as the main east coast line between London, York and Leeds.

In a similar vein, steel rail tracks are known to expand as they are heated and can bend in extreme temperatures, where they can become up to 20 degrees Celsius hotter than air.

By extension, most rail networks can function smoothly until rail temperatures reach 46 degrees Celsius.

The company explained: “When our remote monitoring systems tell us that a section of track may expand too much and cause problems, we set local speed limits. Slower trains put less force on the track, reducing the chance of buckling . Sometimes . The rails close even with the precautions in place, and that means we have to close the line and fix the track.”

In an opposite corner, Kate Malthouse, the police minister, declared that “Britain must learn to live with extreme weather events” and also admitted that a plan to make the country more resilient to the climate crisis will be delayed until a new prime minister was appointed.

“Britain may be unaccustomed to these high temperatures, but the UK, along with our European neighbours, must learn to live with this type of extreme event.”

He added that the new national resilience strategy would be launched “at the earliest possible opportunity by the next administration.”

Malthouse also told MPs the system was largely working during the heatwave, but admitted there had been some tragic deaths in water-related accidents.

Posted in The Independent on 21 July 2022

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