07 Aug Heat-related deaths could triple because of lack of policy on building safety | UK News
As temperatures soar in Britain there’s a warning that tens of thousands of people could die unnecessarily because of a lack of government strategy for keeping buildings at a safe temperature in the heat.
The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government, says heat-related deaths could more than triple by 2050.
It says there’s no policy for dealing with dangerously high temperatures within buildings – and says people living in flats are most at risk because they’re more difficult to keep cool.
It says there are only guidelines and no legal requirement for public buildings such as hospitals to maintain a safe temperature.
Kathryn Brown, from the committee, said: “We’re saying that these deaths are preventable, that they’re being associated with higher temperatures. And that is in the absence of any further policy.
“We expect due to the effects of climate change and population growth that by 2050 the number could actually treble and be nearer 7,000 deaths per year if we don’t do anything further.
“We’ve known about the risks for an awfully long time, we’ve been talking about it for 20 years and yet there hasn’t been that shift in policy to make sure we are making buildings safe for their occupants because of high and low temperatures.
“Alongside flood risk the effects of extreme heat and higher temperatures is one of the top risks to human health in the UK.”
We spoke to residents at a block of flats in the West Midlands who told us on hot days the heat indoors was unbearable. It’s often more difficult to ventilate flats and create shade.
Tony Onley has a three-year-old child but said she’d been given a temperature gauge by a midwife which only goes up to around 27C (80.6F). It showed the temperature in her flat was off-the-scale.
She said: “It could be much more than that and it’s way too hot for my baby. It should be much lower. It’s like a greenhouse in here. It’s sometimes cooler to just go outside.”
Britain has pledged to be net carbon zero by 2050 and making buildings energy efficient is central to that.
But it’s difficult to balance the heat and the cold, particularly in buildings like flats as Britain tries to reduce its emissions.
Chartered building services engineer Adam Selvey says the focus has been on reducing carbon.
He said: “It’s a real issue. As a nation we’re concentrating on zero carbon and that’s important to become more sustainable and decarbonise.
“But a sustainable society balances human wellbeing, economic wellbeing and the environmental. So as we insulate our homes more because of climate change what we’re having is a net effect where buildings are over heating in the summer more than they would have done 20 or 30 years ago.”
Last July, Britain recorded it’s hottest ever day of 38.7C (102F) degrees in Cambridge. But the Met Office says the chances of a 40C (104F) day are increasing all the time.