40C ‘Death Valley’ heatwave could overwhelm NHS and cause ‘thousands’ of deaths, expert warns while schools prepare to close early and cancel sports days

  • Health chiefs fear NHS will be overwhelmed by heat-related casualties if the mercury rises as high as feared
  • Tuesday expected to be hottest, potentially topping record temperature of 38.7C set in Cambridge in 2019
  • As a result, schools across the country are taking steps to try and protect pupils amid the harsh conditions

Schools are preparing to send pupils home or tell them to wear their PE kit to class next week as experts issue a ‘danger to life’ warning over the heatwave hitting Britain – with temperatures potentially rising to a record 40C.

Health chiefs fear the NHS will be overwhelmed by a number of heat-related casualties if the mercury does indeed rise to levels only usually seen in Death Valley in California, the world’s hottest place. 

Tuesday is likely to be the hottest day, with the potential to top the UK record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F) set in Cambridge in 2019, forecasters said.

The Met Office warning says the weather could cause health problems across the population, not just among people vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to potentially serious illness or danger to life.

Climate change lecturer John Grant told the Mirror: ‘I think hundreds are going to die in the UK if not ­thousands, that’s my fear if we hit temperatures of 40C.

‘It’s terrifying what will happen if we don’t have a management plan and get cooling centres ready.’

Meanwhile, schools are also taking steps to try and protect pupils in the harsh conditions – with some encouraging wearing t-shirt and shorts and others axing sports days and offering the chance for parents to keep their children home altogether.

Experts have issued a ‘danger to life’ warning over the heatwave hitting Britain – with temperatures potentially rising to a record 40C. Pictured: Bournemouth beach

A rainbow over Spanish City in Whitley Bay in North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear on Thursday amid the current heatwave

People walk amongst the flower meadows, around the Tower of London, central London on Thursday afternoon

Tuesday is likely to be the hottest day, with the potential to top the UK record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F) set in Cambridge in 2019, forecasters said. Pictured: A woman on Bournemouth beach

The Hereford Academy in Herefordshire has announced an earlier start and finish to the school day to try and beat the worst of the heat.

A message on its Facebook page read: ‘Due to the high temperatures due to hit next week, we will have an earlier condensed format for our final four days: Finishing earlier but starting earlier thus being away for the hottest part of the day.’

Elsewhere in the same county, a letter to parents of children at Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Partin’s Primary School warned PE lessons will be scrapped and pupils won’t be allowed outside to play.

It added: ‘We are also giving parents the option to keep children at home on Monday.’

Meanwhile, Crestwood Community School in Eastleigh, Hampshire, said it was cancelling its sports day as ‘we do not feel that it is safe for students to be out in the heat all day, taking part in physical activity.’ 

And in east London, the head teacher of Clapton Girls’ Academy warned of an early finish amid fears the school’s facilities won’t be able to cope with the soaring temperatures.

Anna Feltham told parents: ‘Already, many classrooms are very hot, even with fans, and students are struggling to keep cool, drink enough water and maintain concentration in lessons. 

‘Next week’s heatwave will make many teaching rooms unbearably hot by lesson 4 and 5. We have reviewed a number of options but do not have sufficient ‘cool’ rooms to re-room lessons into.’ 

Before that, however, Friday will begin with outbreaks of showery rain moving south-east across northern and central areas of the UK.

Meanwhile, people in the South and South West can expect warm sunshine. London is forecast to experience 26C on Friday, while 23C is predicted for Cardiff, 20C in Belfast and 19C in Edinburgh.

Saturday is also set to start with overcast skies and scattered showers in northern areas, before turning dry across the nation as the extreme heat moves in.

During the peak of the heatwave on Tuesday, 36C is predicted in the capital, 28C in Cardiff, 26C in Belfast and 25C in Edinburgh, but some meteorologists believe it could even rise to an unprecedented 40C.

Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse has said the Government is preparing for a ‘surge’ in demand on the NHS and other services due to the expected heatwave.

After chairing a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee in Whitehall, Mr Malthouse urged the public to look out for people who were particularly vulnerable in the heat.

Elsewhere, Avanti West Coast has warned passengers who wish to use services between London Euston and Scotland to plan ahead due to the impact of the heat on rail lines.

The company said that weekend services may be cancelled at short notice while journeys on Monday and Tuesday will be subject to amended timetables.

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