Members of the public enjoy the warm weather on Bridlington Beach on 13 July 2022. (Photo by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Trains may be slapped with speed limits and NHS staff drafted into A&E departments as Britain prepares for an extreme heatwave.
The government’s contingency plans were outlined by the prime minister’s spokesman on Friday afternoon after ared “extreme” heat warning was issued for parts of England.
The heat warning, the first of its kind by the Met Office, means a risk to life is likely as temperatures could hit 40C (104F).
It is in place on Monday and Tuesday, covering London, the Midlands and going as far north as Manchester and York.
It is expected to cause disruption to travel and concerns have also been raised about big sporting events including the Women’s Euros.
Asked what the government’s plans were ahead of the hot weather, a spokesman for the prime minister said: “If you look at the rail sector, specialist teams from Network Rail and TfL will continue to monitor the impact of high temperatures to try and make sure they can keep services running as safely and reliably for passengers.
“It may be the case of speed restrictions are likely to be put in place on some parts of the network next week to manage the hot weather and to avoid any potential damage.
“If you look at road and air, the Department for Transport is engaging with port operators and highways agencies, as well as the police to ensure plans are in place particularly in locations where you may see queuing and people who are in the heat while they queue.
“The NHS has tried and tested contingency plans for a wide range of scenarios and that includes increasing staff in certain areas such as ambulance control and rostering more staff into emergency departments.
“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport are obviously engaging closely with sporting sector bodies and the organisations of major events that are taking place during next week such as the Women’s Euros.”
He said Cobra met yesterday and officials from across government will continue to meet regularly, both today and throughout the weekend.
Meteorologists say there is a 50 per cent chance of temperatures reaching 40C somewhere in the UK, likely along the A1 corridor.
The UK Health Security Agency has increased its heat health warning from level three to level four – a “national emergency”.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: “If people have vulnerable relatives or neighbours, now is the time to make sure they’re putting suitable measures in place to be able to cope with the heat because if the forecast is as we think it will be in the red warning area, then people’s lives are at risk.
“This is a very serious situation.”
He said there is an 80 per cent chance of the all-time UK temperature record being broken, and a 50 per cent chance of temperatures of 40C being reached somewhere in the UK.
He said that temperatures reaching 40C would be a “historic event”.
“If we get to 40C that’s a very iconic threshold and shows that climate change is with us now,” he said.
“This is made much more likely because of climate change.”
Motorists have been advised to try to make their journeys outside of the hottest periods of the day, particularly if they have older cars. Meanwhile, lifeboat crews are anticipating a busy weekend as families flock to the beaches.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.