This is how cities can prepare for heat waves

Facts: Stronger and longer heat waves

As the climate changes, heat waves will become more common, both globally and in Sweden. The heat waves will also be stronger and longer, which places higher demands on society, both in terms of preventive adaptation measures and crisis preparedness.

Heat waves lead to increased mortality, especially for vulnerable groups. It is above all older people who are at high risk of being affected.

The impact on socially important activities outside the healthcare sector can also be significant in the event of a heat wave.

The average temperature in Sweden is expected to rise by 3-5 degrees by the 2080s compared with the years 1960-1990.

Source: The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency

Fans and air conditioners fly off the shelves in France. Outdoor cafes are empty when people seek protection from the heat in Spain. And in Italy, support groups are calling around to retirees to make sure they have enough food and medicine at home so they don’t have to go out when the thermometer creeps up red.

An unusually early heat wave has swept across southern Europe with temperatures usually occurring in mid-July. Maybe something similar awaits last year’s record hot summer on the continent when lemons rotted on the trees, forests stood in flames and snails were burned to death in their shells.

In India and Pakistan, the heat in recent months has reached levels that, according to researchers, test the limits of human viability. Children have got nosebleeds on the way to school and dehydrated birds have fallen from the sky. And in the United States, more than a third of the population a week was asked to stay indoors because of the heat.

Deadly heat

Heat is a threat to human health both directly and indirectly, even though many more die of cold. Every year, millions of people are at risk of heat-related illnesses and thousands are losing their lives. The problems are particularly great in urban and urban environments that are getting warmer than the countryside – and are expected to grow with climate change.

Children, the elderly and people who already have cardiovascular or lung diseases are particularly vulnerable. Poor people in cities, who often work outdoors or live and work in buildings without air conditioning or adequate ventilation, are also at risk.

Roofers defy the heat in Jackson, USA, where heat warnings were issued earlier this week for a number of states.

Five billion people live in places exposed to heat waves – but there are ways to save lives, emphasizes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“Heat waves are the silent killer of climate change, but that does not have to be the case,” writes President Francesco Rocca in a comment.

“Most heat waves are anticipated days or weeks in advance, giving plenty of time to act early and inform and protect the most vulnerable. The good news is that there are simple and inexpensive measures that authorities can take to prevent unnecessary deaths due to heat.”

Suggestions for measures

The number of cities exposed to extreme temperatures is expected to triple in the coming decades. But urban planning can help minimize the most devastating effects of extreme heat. The IFRC, in collaboration with the C40 climate network, has developed one toolbox with proposals for measures that can lower temperatures in urban areas and reduce the so-called heating effect.

Trees have an important role to play, they offer shade and protection from the sun’s rays on streets and walkways. The leaves also evaporate water, which has a dampening effect. Another example of a heat-reducing green structure is Barcelona’s “striped” sidewalks, where paving stones are interspersed with vegetation so that the moisture in the soil can cool down the hot road during the summer.

The importance of “blue infrastructure” is highlighted in the toolbox. These can be drinking water fountains so that passers-by can quench their thirst, ponds, fountains and swimming pools that spread cool or, as in Tokyo: to use rainwater to cool down facades.

Reflective color

“Gray infrastructure” can also help and then refers to, among other things, solar film on windows, white ceiling paint that reflects sunlight and energy-efficient systems for air conditioning and ventilation. In addition, residents should be informed and educated on how best to behave when temperatures rise.

But political decisions are also needed, according to C40, which proposes initiatives to reduce vehicle traffic, grants to actors who invest in green infrastructure and the development of warning systems and emergency plans that can be implemented quickly if necessary.

“The climate crisis is driving and intensifying the humanitarian crisis in all regions of the world. But when cities and communities are better prepared, extreme weather does not have to be a disaster or a tragedy,” Rocca wrote.

A woman tries to cool off by covering her head with a newspaper in Pamplona, ​​Spain.

Source: by

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