Brits urged to 'look out for family and friends' as life-threatening 40C red alert looms

16 July 2022, 07:48 | Updated: 16 July 2022, 19:39

  • UK heat record likely to be set as forecasters predict 40C
  • Illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy due to heat, warns UK Health Security Agency
  • 50% chance of temperatures reaching 40C somewhere in the UK next week
  • Met Office warns 'lives at risk' and the country faces 'a very serious situation'
  • Health Secretary urges public to support friends and family in extreme weather
Officials are warning lives of fit and healthy, not just vulnerable people ,will be at risk at the height of the heatwave
Officials are warning lives of fit and healthy, not just vulnerable people ,will be at risk at the height of the heatwave. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Asher McShane

The Met Office has warned that people's lives could be at risk as it indicated it is likely that a new UK record temperature could be set early next week.

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Newly-appointed Health Secretary Steve Barclay urged Brits to look out for one another in the challenging conditions, saying there are three simple steps to ensure the public can protect themselves: Drink plenty of water, seek shade and cover up.

It came after Cabinet Office Minister Kit Malthouse chaired a second meeting of the Government's Cobra civil contingencies committee to discuss the impending heatwave.

Mr Malthouse said: "Today I chaired a COBR meeting of Ministers and officials, as all parts of Government work to make sure we have the right contingencies in place to respond to any impacts of the extreme heat over the next few days.

"These include supporting schools, health and emergency services as well as major events and the UK’s transport networks. Officials and Ministers will continue to work over the weekend, and Ministers and I will meet again on Monday.

"It is important that we all continue to follow public health advice to keep cool, and take simple precautions like drinking lots of water and seeking shade, and also checking on vulnerable friends and neighbours."

Meteorologists gave an 80% chance of the mercury topping the UK's record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F) set in Cambridge in 2019, with the current heatwave set to peak on Tuesday.

Temperatures will climb over the weekend, and the Met Office has issued an amber warning for heat covering much of England and Wales from Sunday until Tuesday.

In preparation for what is to come, Mr Barclay also revealed that the Government is "putting in extra capacity" to "support the NHS".

Saturday started with comparatively cool conditions, with overcast skies and scattered showers in northern areas, before turning dry across the nation as the extreme heat moves in.

Read more: Officials tell Brits to check on vulnerable ahead of 'absolutely unprecedented' heatwave

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Met Office issues warning for 'unprecedented' level of heat to come

Daytime temperatures on Saturday are predicted to be around 27C in London, 26C in Cardiff, 23C in Belfast and 21C in Edinburgh.

On Sunday, the mercury will rise to 30C in the capital, 27C in Cardiff, 24C in Belfast and 23C in Edinburgh.

Temperatures are forecast to increase by several more degrees across the nation on Tuesday - up to the mid-thirties for much of England and Wales.

Low water levels at Lindley Wood Reservoir in West Yorkshire
Low water levels at Lindley Wood Reservoir in West Yorkshire. Picture: Getty

There is a 50% chance of temperatures reaching 40C somewhere in the UK, likely along the A1 corridor, with the Met Office issuing its first ever red warning for extreme heat.

The UK Health Security Agency has increased its heat health warning from level three to level four - a "national emergency".

Sun seekers soak up some rays this week but there are warnings for people to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day
Sun seekers soak up some rays this week but there are warnings for people to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day. Picture: Getty

Level four is reached "when a heatwave is so severe and/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," it said.

Londoners meanwhile are being urged against travelling on Monday and Tuesday. Transport for London (TfL) is advising passengers to only travel for "essential journeys".

A Met Office red warning, for Monday and Tuesday, covers an area from London up to Manchester, and up to the Vale of York.

Thousands of people flocked to Britain's beaches on Friday
Thousands of people flocked to Britain's beaches on Friday. Picture: Alamy

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: "If people have vulnerable relatives or neighbours, now is the time to make sure they're putting suitable measures in place to be able to cope with the heat because if the forecast is as we think it will be in the red warning area, then people's lives are at risk.

"This is a very serious situation."

A No 10 spokesman said railway speed restrictions may be needed on "some parts of the network next week to manage the hot weather and to avoid any potential damage".

Jake Kelly, of Network Rail, warned that journeys will take "significantly longer and delays are likely as speed restrictions are introduced to keep passengers and railway staff safe".

Train operators have warned passengers to avoid travelling on Monday and Tuesday unless their journey is "absolutely necessary".

Some southern schools are also considering closing on these days - and the NEU teaching union issued a statement saying it would support headteachers taking this decision.

Downing Street said that Cobra met on Thursday amid the heatwave, and discussions with sectors including the NHS will "continue to work closely with all of those sectors over today, through the weekend and into early next week".

Meanwhile, motorists have been advised to try to make their journeys outside of the hottest periods of the day, particularly if they have older cars.

North Wales Police said a paddleboarder died after getting into difficulty in the water off Conwy Morfa beach on Thursday evening.

Officers were called at 10.14pm and attended alongside the coastguard, RNLI and ambulance service, with two casualties taken to hospital in Bangor, where one of them, a 24-year-old woman, died.

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