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Could Naming Heatwaves Help the UK Prepare for Them?

According to the leading researchers, the UK must name heatwaves as part of an efficient early warning system to safeguard the most at risk.

Could Naming Heatwaves Help the UK Prepare for Them?

Image Credit: Marian Weyo/

Since the UK will be experiencing a heatwave and possibly record-breaking temperatures this week, and with climate change increasing the frequency of such events in the future, the Physiological Society is wanting heatwaves to be called similar to storms.

The Physiological Society is the biggest group of physiologists in Europe and is concentrated on comprehending how the body functions. This includes how the body copes in reaction to heat and other extreme weather conditions.

Calls for better early warning systems for heatwaves are included in a report The Society is launching this Wednesday (13th July, 2022) at an event in London on the health policy consequences of climate change.

The report stresses policy priorities for Government in reaction to the effect of climate change on human health, as well as determining areas of gaps in research that need to be fulfilled.

At present, the UK Met Office names storms alphabetically to support the communication of upcoming severe weather via the media and government agencies. In recent times, Seville has begun naming heatwaves as overly hot weather turns out to be highly frequent.

This week could potentially see record breaking temperatures here in the UK. Just like preparing for a storm in winter, people need to take action to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Mike Tipton, Professor, The Physiological Society

Tipton stated, “Extreme heat isn’t just a problem on your summer holidays, due to climate change we are increasingly seeing very hot weather here in the UK. Even one day of very hot weather can present a risk, but consecutive days of high temperatures triggers a heatwave that requires specific actions to keep people safe.”

Tipton added, “As part of raising awareness of the threat from heatwaves in the UK, heatwaves should be named in the same was as we name storms. It makes the risk to health clear and that people can’t expect to continue as normal during the heatwave.

This will aid the communication of approaching heatwaves through the media and government agencies. This is especially helpful for those who don’t have as ready access to the internet or weather apps on smartphones,” continued Tipton.

As the science of how the body works, physiology explains the impact of hot weather on our health. We can use this knowledge to advise on ways to keep the body cool and design early warning systems that provide tailored advice to the most vulnerable or those who have to work in the heat,” added Tipton.

Tipton concluded, “This will enable people to better plan ahead and take measures that could save lives. Such knowledge can also assist in smart building design and urban development, both of which will amongst the developments needed going into a hotter future.”


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