HUNDREDS of Brits may have been killed by the record-breaking heatwaves that have scorched the UK this year, according to new figures.
Experts fear the death toll could soar to more than 2,000 after Britain is believed to have baked in its hottest day ever on Thursday.
Hundreds of Brits may have been killed by the record-breaking heatwaves in the UK this year[/caption]
A guardsmen felt the heat as he stood on duty outside Buckingham Palace in London last week[/caption]
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show an extra 614 deaths have already been recorded this summer, according to the Daily Star.
And the number could grow when fatalities from last week’s blistering heatwave are taken into account.
Last summer’s heatwaves led to 863 excess deaths, Public Health England has estimated.
And more than 2,000 people may have died in the heatwave in 2003 – the last time the mercury soared above 38C.
Figures show 334 more deaths than average were recorded in England and Wales in the week to June 28 as a heatwave saw 30C highs, reports claim.
And 280 additional fatalities were seen in the week to June 7, as temperatures soared to 29C.
Experts believe “several hundred” more may have died in the blistering heatwave last week.
SPIKE IN DEATHS
Bob Ward, from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said: “The death toll due to this week’s heatwave is expected to be several hundred.
“We’ll have to wait to find out if it is higher than that as this heatwave was shorter than 2003.
“The spike in deaths at the end of June is also likely to be due to hot weather.
“The combination of very hot days and very warm 20C nights is lethal as people’s bodies have trouble coming down.”
ELDERLY AND BABIES ARE AT RISK
The elderly, ill and babies are at most risk in a heatwave, according to experts.
Dr Adrian Boyle of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine previously said: “The people most at risk in a heatwave are the frail elderly with heart or kidney problems.”
The Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change recently warned that the UK was not prepared for a future of more heatwaves.
They called for more action to prevent overheating in homes, hospitals and schools.
Mr Ward suggested the Met Office should start naming heatwaves, like it has for winter storms since 2015, to help warn people about severe weather.
He said: “Far more people have died from recent heatwaves than from storms, so it should be uncontroversial to start applying names to both.
“The Government and its agencies, including the Met Office, must lead the way in communicating the growing dangers of heatwaves and other impacts of climate change, so that the British public are better informed and can protect themselves.”
‘TAKE HEATWAVES SERIOUSLY’
Experts urged people to take steps to protect themselves from the heat, particularly the elderly or those suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Advice includes wearing as little clothing as possible, and only light and loose clothes, staying hydrated, avoiding sunburn and overheating from exercise, and putting hands in cool water.
Dr Friederike Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, said: “To stay cool during the heatwave: drink water, a lot of it, stay indoors during peak heat, look after your elderly relatives and friends and those who sleep rough.
“Take heatwaves seriously, they can be killers for all those who are already vulnerable.
“And talk about climate change all the time to everyone – that is by far the most important individual action you can do to tackle climate change.”
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Local David Cambridge said: “Standing in the centre yesterday and you closed your eyes you could have easily imagined you had been transported to North Africa.
“The nearest I have come to feeling the sort of heat we had here was driving in Death Valley in 1981!”
Met Office analysts claim Cambridge recorded 38.7C on Thursday – higher than the 38.5C recorded in Faversham in 2003.
The temperature on the Central Line in London topped 36C[/caption]