National emergency with temperatures set to rise to 40C

A national emergency has been declared after a Red warning for extreme heat was issued for the first time, as the Met Office forecast temperatures could hit 40C – or 104F – in London and the south-east, and close to that level in as parts of the Midlands, Manchester and York next Monday and Tuesday.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the British Isles previously was 38.7C (101.7 degrees) in Cambridge in 2019.

The Met Office’s highest warning means that there is a risk to life.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has increased its “heat-health warning” alert for England to Level 4 – the highest possible – for the first two days of next week.

The Red alert explains the level means a “national emergency”. It says it is “reached when a heatwave is so severe or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.”

The government said the alert was being treated as a national emergency, with officials continuing to meet on Friday and over the weekend to discuss the response.

It is the first time a red heat warning has been issued for parts of the UK.

As well as the Red warning, an Amber alert will be in place across most of England on Sunday and all of England, Wales and the south of Scotland on Monday and Tuesday.

The Met Office red warning means:

  • Population-wide adverse health effects, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to serious illness or danger to life
  • Substantial changes in working practices and daily routines will be needed
  • A high risk of failure of heat-sensitive equipment, potentially leading to localised loss of power and other essential services
  • More people visiting coastal areas, lakes and rivers, with increased safety risks
  • Delays, closures and cancellations for road, rail and air travel

Climate scientists said temperatures of 40C had been predicted for the UK in climate change modelling, and warned the heatwave would increase pressure on the government to come up with a better plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions more quickly.

Look out for vulnerable: Croydon’s Rachel Flowers

The warning was decided by the UKHSA in collaboration with the Met Office and government departments.

The government’s Cobra emergency committee met yesterday to discuss the heatwave, and officials would meet again over the weekend, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed.

“There is a range of contingency planning in place,” the spokesperson said. This included possible speed restrictions on rail services, where there’s a real fear that steel railway lines could buckle in the extreme heat, as well as measures to ensure the safety of people who might have to queue in cars on roads or at ports, as well as more emergency hospital staff on duty.

In Croydon, Rachel Flowers, the council’s director of public health, said: “We all need to take particular care during this time.

“Thousands of people end up in hospital each year because of heat, with conditions including severe sunburn, heat exhaustion and sun and heatstroke, particularly for those who cannot cope well during a heatwave.

“Be sure to check in on neighbours, friends and relatives who may be more vulnerable in the hot weather. Plan ahead during this time and check on council service updates to ensure that you have what you need to keep safe and well in the heatwave.”

The council says that staff have plans in place to keep essential services running and to provide extra support for those who are most vulnerable.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has activated the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol across London boroughs.

Croydon Council is working with outreach partners, including Streetlink, to step up support for rough sleepers – encouraging them to take up offers of accommodation and shelter from the sun, as well as handing out suncream, sun hats and water.

Croydon residents concerned about someone sleeping rough can contact Streetlink – a 24/7 website, or call 0300 500 0914 to send out an alert about the location of someone sleeping rough.

You can visit the NHS website for more guidance on keeping safe and well.

Also check public transport updates, as services could be disrupted or cancelled due to the hot weather.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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4 Responses to National emergency with temperatures set to rise to 40C

  1. As a Tory voter, I would rather have other people die from heatstroke and see agriculture collapse than give up my God-given right to drive my car wherever and whenever I like at the speed I choose. And don’t get me started on not flying abroad for my holidays or giving up meat

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Strangely I am beginning to feel that I must be digitally challenged. not because I have had a hand operation (thank you kind surgeon)but I frankly missed every Croydon Council announcement including Rachel Flowers missive. I read most National papers and one Guardian free paper and quite a few online articles inc IC (Naturally). I am back to the single finger stabbing of the keyboard at present as feeling returns (and pain) but where exactly does the inhabitants of that monolithic white elephant actually publish there utterings?
    It must happen as they get repeated like cucumber but where are the original ones published?

    Any thoughts or help I would be grateful.

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