In addition, there is a follow-up in the fifteen days prior to and the month after this period in the event that an activation of the National Plan is necessary due to abnormally high temperatures that require prior activation or reactivation of the Plan.
The objective of the National Plan is to prevent and mitigate the negative effects that excessive heat can have on the health of citizens, especially in groups at risk or most vulnerable, such as the elderly, pregnant women, children and the chronically ill, as well as in people who work or make efforts outdoors.
To minimize the damage that these people may suffer, the Ministry of Health insists on a decalogue of general recommendations:
- Drink water or liquids frequently, even if you don't feel thirsty and regardless of physical activity.
- Do not abuse drinks with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar, as they can make you lose more body fluid.
- Although anyone can suffer from a heat-related problem, pay special attention to babies and young children, the elderly, and people with diseases that can be aggravated by heat and dehydration, such as heart disease.
- Stay as long as possible in cool, shady or heated places, and cool off whenever you need to.
- Try to reduce physical activity and avoid practicing outdoor sports in the hottest hours (from 12.00 to 17.00).
- Wear light, loose-fitting, sweaty clothing.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle (especially children, the elderly, or the chronically ill).
- See your doctor for symptoms that last longer than an hour and may be related to high temperatures.
- Keep your medicines in a cool place; heat can alter its composition and its effects.
- Make light meals that help to replace the salts lost by sweat (salads, fruits, vegetables, juices, etc.)
One of the Plan's priority actions is to alert health authorities and citizens well in advance of possible risk situations. For this, the Ministry of Health will provide the autonomous communities daily with the temperature predictions (maximum and minimum) prepared by the Meteorology Statal Agency (AEMET). This information will also be available to citizens on the Ministry's website.
The Plan takes into account the following meteorological variables: the maximum and minimum temperatures predicted for five days, the maximum and minimum temperatures recorded the day before the date of the forecast, and the maximum and minimum threshold temperatures, established based on epidemiological studies that have allowed to relate excess temperature and mortality. In addition, the persistence of excess temperature over time is considered a risk factor for health. The levels are assigned using the following criteria:
- Level 0 (green), of absence of risk, occurs when it is expected that on any day of the next five consecutive days, the threshold temperatures will be exceeded.
- Level 1 (yellow), low risk, it is expected that 1 or 2 days of the next five consecutive days, the threshold temperatures will be exceeded.
- Level 2 (orange), medium risk, it is expected that 3 or 4 days of the next five consecutive days, the threshold temperatures will be exceeded.
- High-risk level 3 (red) is activated when threshold temperatures are expected to be exceeded on each of the next five days.
This information is updated daily on the website of the Ministry of Health. Citizens can also subscribe until September 15 to a service to receive the prediction of temperatures and the level of risk of the requested province in the email and mobile phone. Access to these subscriptions is made through the Ministry's website at the following link.
In 2019, level 3 (red or high risk) of the National Plan of Preventive Actions of the effects of excess temperatures on health was activated 48 times, being the province with the highest number of level 3 activations Granada ( 12). On August 21 there were a total of 10 provinces in red level simultaneously.
Level 2 (orange or medium risk) was activated 200 times during the plan activation period, with the provinces with the highest number of orange levels being Granada (20), Lleida (17) and Zaragoza (17). On July 22 there were a total of 18 provinces in orange level simultaneously.
Level 1 (yellow or low risk) was activated on 505 occasions, distributed among 40 provincial capitals, with Zaragoza (30) being the one with the highest number. July 24 was the day when the highest number of yellow alerts occurred (21 provincial capitals simultaneously).
During the 2019 season there were a total of 78 days with alerts of some kind, with the provinces with the highest number of alerts of any kind Granada with 55 and Zaragoza with 51, followed by Lleida and Murcia with 42. The week with the most alerts was the Between June 24 and 30, with a total of 80 level 1 activations (yellow), 63 level 2 (orange) and 11 level 3 (red).
In 11 provinces, level 0 of risk was never exceeded.