Saturday 16 November 2019

National heatwave plan in action as temperatures soar, and yes, it works

Sheep take shelter from the sun. Photo: DutchNews.nl

With temperatures set to reach the high 30s Celsius this week, the RIVM public health institute has invoked its national heatwave plan which is aimed at protecting vulnerable groups from the heat.

The KNMI has issued a code orange weather warning for everywhere but the Wadden Sea area, forecasting temperatures of up to 34 Celsius on Tuesday. The temperature will continue to rise to as high as 39 Celsius on Thursday with the temperature not dipping below 20 degrees at night.

The heatwave plan offers advice to older people, the chronically sick and overweight people to drink enough water, wear thin clothing, avoid physical effort and stay in the shade. Parents are also urged to make sure young babies stay cool.

It swings into action when the forecast is for four consecutive days with temperatures above 27 Celsius.

Meanwhile research by the Volkskrant shows that the recommendations made in the heatwave plan do have an affect and that it has saved ‘hundreds, if not thousands‘ of lives.

During the heatwaves of July 2013 and June 2015,  fewer elderly people died than would have been expected during normal temperatures.

But in the heatwaves of 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, before the heatwave plan was introduced, the death toll among the elderly rose by an additional 3,000, the Volkskrant said. The paper bases its claim on an analysis of death statistics.

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