Heatwaves in UK claims almost 2,809 lives in excess to previous years
UK Health Security Agency says data shows that UK heatwaves claimed the lives of approximately 2,809 individuals who are 65 years old and over more than in previous years.
Figures reveal that during this summer's heatwaves, almost 2,800 more individuals aged 65 and over died in England, marking the largest excess death toll caused by heat in at least twenty years.
During this summer's heatwaves in England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) documented 43,755 non-Covid-related fatalities among adults aged 65 and up.
This was 2,809 more fatalities than would be projected based on the surrounding fortnight, the greatest amount since England's heatwave strategy was implemented in 2004.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the UKHSA both classified a "heat period" as one with a level 3 heat health alert or an average central England temperature (CET) greater than 20 degrees Celsius.
The ONS data for all age groups revealed that each heat period was succeeded by a period of lower-than-expected fatalities, implying that the heat hastened the deaths of susceptible persons.
The data demonstrate the growing impact of the climate emergency on public health. A recent research by the World Weather Attribution group revealed that human-induced climate change rendered the UK heatwave in July at least ten times more likely.
Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director for the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, argued that “These figures confirm the fear that the record-breaking temperatures this summer caused a record number of deaths. Most of these deaths were preventable and the government refused to take additional precautions even though it knew its heatwave plan was not fit for purpose."
Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at Imperial College London, said: “These numbers are not surprising. We’ve known that heatwaves are extremely deadly and despite the warnings issued this year, the UK is not prepared for heat like this. The houses most of us live in are poorly insulated, we have not been educated even on the most basic things, like closing the windows during the day in a heatwave, so it is sad, but not surprising that so many people died."