Heat-Health Action Plans

Edited by: Franziska Matthies; Graham Bickler; Nose Cardeñosa Marín; Simon Hales

The work deals primarily with climate changes, heat waves and health reactions. In addition, there are a number of topics that are reviewed. The first is climate change itself. Attention is also paid to heat waves with the idea that prevention is possible! This requires meteo-early warning systems as well as public medical advice. But urban planning is also not unimportant. Nevertheless, there are still many deaths in the figures of 2006. One conclusion is that not enough actions are being organized in many European countries. The booklet gives a number of hints in theory:

Negative effects: preventive treatment! (theory)
Use existing local emergency planning systems
Go for the long term
In all sectors (not only health sector)
Communicate effectively from the government
Advise for indoor coolers
Caring for the vulnerable
Health sector & social sector must be ready
Long-term Urban planning
Real-time surveillance and evaluation

But actually we just want hands-on advice. And that’s what we get!

Recommendations to the public

Keep your house cool, close windows during the day, open windows at night
Stay out of the heat: do not walk long in the sun between 12.00 and 15.00
Hydrate your body: drink enough, but drink no alcohol or heavily sweetened drinks
Wear light, loose clothing, hat with wide brim, sunglasses
Help others
Ask your doctor for advice on medication during hot days; keep your medication below 25 ° C
Do you feel unwell, dizzy, anxious, weak?
Drink water, possibly fruit juice
Immediately rest in a cool place
Go to the doctor

Vulnerable groups

Previous tips are doubly important for vulnerable groups such as
Diabetes mellitus, hormonal disorders
Organic mental disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s
Mental disorders due to medication or alcohol
Schizophrenia, schizotype disorders
Movement disorders (Parkinson),
Cardiovascular, hypertension, coronary arterial diseases, …
Diseases of respiration, COPD, bronchitis, …
Kidney diseases, kidney stones

Recommendations for general practitioners

Understanding thermoregulatory and haemodynamic reactions in heat
Understanding heat illness, clinical manifestations, diagnosis and treatment
Recognize early symptoms of heatstroke
Apply cooling and resuscitation
To be familiar with the risks and protection factors in heat-wave related diseases
Advice to patients to learn good protection techniques
Side effects of heat on prescribed medications
Follow up of patients in terms of sufficient drinking
Know your contacts! Teach your patients the necessary contacts!

Recommendations for residential care

The recommendations for the public remain valid
Monitor the indoor door temperatures
Move the residents / patients to a cooler place
Ask doctors to follow up the weak
Monitor the drinking by the residents
Monitor body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, hydration, early symptoms of heat diseases
Start treatment where necessary
Inform and train the staff, if necessary, take care of different levels of staff.

Effects of heat with medication

Medications in combination with heat can
Have a direct impact on the temperature regulation of the body
Impact on the ingoing or outgoing pathways of organs, sweating and vasodilatation in the skin
Increase heat sickness
Reduce positive effects of medication
Poisoning (symptoms) worsen
Increase dehydration

Recommendations regarding drinking

Drink, only to compensate for loss by 150%
Even if you are not thirsty
Drinking excessively can have complications
With heat stroke
Adding NaCl can restore the water balance
Drinking tailored to the patient

Risk communication in case of heat

Build a trust
Dialogue, not monologue
Along all channels
Communicate faster, rather than more completely
Transparency: Clear, well-defined, easy language, factual material

Approach to heat-disease

Bring the victim in a cool location with shade
Call a doctor

Approach to heat stroke (outside the hospital)

Move to a cool place
Ice compresses in the neck, armpit and groin
Spray the skin with water at 25 ° C – 30 ° C
In case of loss of consciousness: put them on their side
With anxiety, delirium, give isotonic drink (NaCl)

Cooled interior doors

Monitor the temperature
Provide extra shade
Provide electric fans
Mobile coolers based on evaporation
Local air conditioning

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields. Since 2012, he has been working at the Crisis Centre of the Flemish Government (CCVO), where he has progressed in BCM, risk management, and crisis management. Since August 2021, he has been a knowledge worker for the CCVO. As of January 2024, he works at the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs of the Flemish Government. Here, he combines BCM, risk management, and crisis management to create a tailored form of resilience management to meet the needs of the Flemish Government.

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