Climate change and heat waves: how best to defend yourself

This year’s temperature spikes, exacerbated by the climate change we’re experiencing, are once again turning our cities into real “urban heat islands”. So we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you of the prevention and protection measures recommended by EGP to guarantee the health of all our people and reduce the risk of heatstroke during the summer season.

Climate change – with the increase in global temperatures and seasonal values of 1°C or more above the historical averages – has been generating intense heat waves for some time now, each time exceeding the record highs of the previous year. Every day a code yellow, orange or red heat warning is issued to this city today, that city tomorrow, without much distinction between Northern, Central or Southern Italy. The phenomenon is national (and global), and the need for these high temperature warnings without regard to geographical location is a worrying sign that extreme climatic events, such as summer heat waves, are now a generalized, and recurring, phenomenon.

Adding to this already worrying picture is the phenomenon of Urban Heat Islands (UHI): cities have become places where the combination of several anthropogenic factors (i.e. factors created by man), such as the use of non-reflective or poorly reflective materials on building roofs and facades; the presence of so-called urban canyons, characterized by very tall buildings lining narrow, poorly ventilated streets; soil sealing – all of this leads to further temperature spikes, beyondthe ‘natural’ levels of the surrounding countryside, even 5-6°C higher, aggravating the health risks for the population, of which – let’s not forget – in Italy, more than 50% is concentrated in the cities.

Mitigation of these phenomena is possible, even in the short term, by making cities gradually more sustainable by taking concrete measures: the use of more reflective building materials and surfaces with less heat gain, the at least partial renaturalization of urban soil and the planting of trees. In the meantime, however, we must not underestimate the risks associated with high temperatures, and we must know how to defend ourselves against their consequences, which unfortunately we’re seeing more and more often in the news these days. To cite just one statistic, in the summer of 2022 in Italy alone (setting a sad record in Europe), the effects of heat spikes cost the lives of over 18,000 people: a bit as if the entire population of Voghera (Pavia), or Vasto (Chieti), or Fasano (Brindisi), were no longer there.

This is why the Enel Group, which has always been committed to protecting the health and safety of our workers, has launched various communication and information initiatives, inspired by the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health: not only for those who work outdoors, exposed for long periods to solar radiation, but for everyone in the company.

So we want to remind everyone of our campaign, because compliance with a few rules can make the difference:

  • Avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day;
  • Protect yourself from the heat at home and at work;
  • Drink at least a liter and a half of water a day;
  • Always follow a balanced diet;
  • Be careful to store food correctly;
  • Wear clothes made from natural fibers and breathable fabrics;
  • Protect yourself from the heat while traveling;
  • Exercise in the coolest hours of the day;
  • Offer assistance to people at higher risk;
  • Always remember to protect pets, too.

In this way, we’ll help others and ourselves have a peaceful, happy summer and earn a “code green” status of good health!