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Finland better prepared for hot weather

25 Jul 2019, 21:39 ( 4 Months ago) | updated: 26 Jul 2019, 02:35 ( 4 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Photo VisitFinland by Mikko Nikkinen.

Hot weather causes problems both to animals and people in Finland these years.

Temperature levels around 30 degrees Celsius have prevailed in Finland this week. Based on the experiences of last summer, Finland has been better prepared to tackle hot weather for a lengthy time.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)  has established that the heat wave of 2018 accelerated the death of some 400 people in Finland, the national broadcaster Yle reported on Thursday. Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, has urged hospitals and other service providers to enhance their hot weather preparations for this summer.

Reija Ruuhela, researcher from the Finnish Meteorological Institute(FMI), told Yle that "as a result of 2018, health authorities in Finland began taking the temperature issues more seriously." She said the mortality begins to increase when the daily average temperature exceeds 20 degrees Celsius in Finland.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that European countries should introduce a system of official hot weather warnings that would then trigger preparations in the health services sector.

There is no such system in Finland right now. The Meteorological Institute gives heat wave warnings, but they are mainly advisories for the population and do not launch health service preparatory measures. A forest fire warning and official alert system has been in operation for many decades.

The Helsinki region hospital service has a hot weather program that kicks on if the temperature exceeds 25 degrees Celsius. Jukka Louhija, a medical executive doctor at the Helsinki University Clinic, told Yle that air conditioning keeps the temperature in operating theaters between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius.  

On duty breaks for staffers will be increased. "During last summer's heat wave, staff was given a break at one hour intervals," Louhija said. He noted that in last summer the increased air humidity hampered sterilization of instruments. Room temperatures also exceeded the limits for storing pharmaceutical products safely.

Louhija said on Thursday that problems could be expected now, if the heat wave continues for weeks and temperatures further increase. "If the 40 degree temperature would enter Finland and go on for weeks, then our cooling system will be under huge pressure." He said there are plans for that situation as well, but they have never been applied.

The legal limit for room temperatures in hospitals and senior care institutions can be 30 degrees Celsius at the maximum. In residential buildings the limit is 32 degrees. If the room temperature is higher and remains at that level a tenant can demand a reimbursement of part of the rent paid.

The scientific scenarios of the climate change predict that the average temperature of Finland would increase by the end of the century by six agrees. The number of hot weather days would increase multiply by the end of the century.