Summer 2023: Germany to implement new heatwave plan
Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has announced new information about how the government plans to protect citizens during summer heatwaves. If all goes to plan, it will be implemented within the next few weeks of the summer.
Germany announces plan for heatwave protection
In recent years, heat days or “Hitzetage”, days where the temperature reaches 30 degrees celsius or above, have occurred earlier in the summer and more regularly across Germany and Europe.
Now, with signs of anthropogenic climate change becoming more present in everyday life in Germany, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has announced that the government will develop a heatwave protection plan to make sure risks to public health are minimised as much as possible.
“Old people, people who receive care, people with health conditions, but also children, people who are pregnant and people who spend lots of time outside for work or leisure are in danger when heatwaves cross Germany,” the minister said on Monday at a meeting with care workers, doctors, and representatives of municipalities, Germany’s federal states and social organisations.
Speaking to Bild am Sonntag, Lauterbach continued that the German government must introduce a new policy so that it can put an end to the fact that “every year thousands of people die from excessive heat”. According to the Robert Koch Institute, between 2018 and 2020 there were more than 19.000 heatwave-related deaths in Germany.
Heatwave protection plan will arrive this summer
Two weeks ago, Lauterbach already announced that Germany would have a heatwave protection plan similar to the model used in France, which ranks heatwave severity based on temperature.
The health minister says that he will work on a plan which includes more “concerted action[s]” in the coming weeks. This will include making sure that people living in Germany are more aware of the dangers of extreme heat.
Another proposal that has been floated is making sure that the temperature in hospitals is limited to 25 degrees. Germany’s Patient Protection Foundation has demanded that billions of euros be invested in hospital infrastructure to make sure this can be managed.
Foundation board member Eugen Brysch told AFP that since heat protection regulations for hospitals and care home buildings are valid for three years, these regulations must be stipulated in Lauterbach’s coming plan, “[otherwise] a national heat protection plan is not worth much.”
Lauterbach hopes to complete the protection plan in the next few weeks and implement it this summer. "We have done too little in the past - we want to make up for that now," he said on Monday.
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