Low earners and city dwellers struggling to stay cool at home

Photo: Depositphotos

Health boards are calling on local authorities and housing corporations to take measures to stop people overheating in their homes.

Almost half of people are having difficulty cooling off in the house, the garden or in their neighbourhood during longer spells of hot weather, a survey among 140,000 people by regional health boards and Radboudumc has found.

The elderly, people on low incomes, adolescents and people with health problems have the most difficulty keeping out the heat. Some 44% struggle to stay cool indoors, while 49% are unable to find relief in their gardens or neighbourhood.

People in urban environments suffer most, with 61% of city dwellers feeling too hot compared to 48% of those who live in the country.

Health boards are calling on local authorities and housing corporations to take long-term and sustainable measures to prevent problems to health caused by the heat. “Climate change will only make things worse,” they said.

Recommendations include good ventilation, external blinds and heatproof housing for the elderly.

Large-scale research carried out by the RIVM health institute in 2021 has shown that one-third of all deaths caused by heat in the Netherlands can be ascribed to climate change.

“We know that people who have heart problems, for instance, are at greater risk of heat. It has always been the case that more people die when it is extremely hot. But climate change is exacerbating the effect,” RIVM climate researcher Joost van der Ree said at the time.

The Netherlands has been experiencing above average summer temperatures for June since 2017, with every year since setting a new record. The recent heatwave will make this June the hottest yet. “Spanish heat” is set to become a regular feature of the Dutch summer, experts have warned.

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