Taking into account the fear of extreme heat waves this summer, during which temperatures throughout the country may reach 49 degrees Celsius, the Beersheva Municipality is preparing for a climate emergency. The municipality has begun a series of preparedness measures following an organized emergency plan, including operating a "heat procedures" emergency hotline, mapping vulnerable populations and preparing a plan for communicating with them, mapping critical and vulnerable infrastructures, mapping high-risk mass events and adapting them to extreme conditions and more.
The Beer Sheva Municipality has recently established a climate emergency hotline, which has begun distributing precautionary instructions to residents and recommendations for preparedness measures for extreme heat waves this summer. The establishment of the hotline signals the activation of the first municipal emergency plan of its kind in Israel called "Heat Procedures," in which the Beersheva Municipality has begun preparatory steps for a climate emergency.
As part of the plan, preventive measures have already been taken, including mapping mass events in the urban space and canceling the farmers' market planned on the municipal pedestrian mall last Friday due to the extreme heat. This activity is the result of organized staff work that has been taking place for months in the Beersheva municipality, led by Mayor Ruvik Danilovich and under the guidance of climate crisis expert Prof. Adi Wolfson.
The municipality decided to implement the emergency plan against the background of the national reference scenario for extreme weather this summer, published by the National Emergency Authority in the Ministry of Defense and the Meteorological Service. According to the scenario, "from June to September, there may be two severe heat waves per month, lasting 3-4 days and with temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius. During peak heat waves, electricity consumption will increase by 10%, mortality is expected to increase by 8.5% and average hospitalization due to cardiovascular disease will be 10-15% higher."
According to the scenario in the Negev and the northern valleys, temperatures at the peak of the day during the heat wave may reach 44 degrees Celsius, and during the night, they will not be less than 25 degrees Celsius. Based on these assessments, global forecasts regarding the climate crisis and the need to prevent damage to people and property, the Beersheva Municipality decided to implement the emergency plan "Heat Procedures." The municipality will publish the regulations and guidelines resulting from this procedure in the coming days.
The emergency measures to be taken by the municipality as part of the "Heat Procedures" program include convening an emergency economy committee, preparing written and photographic informational materials for distribution to residents, including instructions for assisting at-risk populations and animals, mapping vulnerable populations (including the elderly, infants, etc.) and preparing a plan for communicating with them during a climate emergency, mapping critical infrastructure and heat vulnerability (roads, electrical and communication systems, etc.) and preparing to deal with damage to them, mapping large events that will be held during the summer and adapting them safely in extreme climatic conditions and more.
"The issue of the climate crisis is no longer a matter of vague scenarios in academia or in the appropriate UN institutions," explains Prof. Adi Wolfson, advisor to the mayor of Beersheva on the climate crisis. "The crisis is here and now, and the state and every local authority in the country must prepare accordingly."
According to Prof. Wolfson: "The heat waves affect various aspects of life in the city, including human and nature, the activity of critical infrastructure, an increase in morbidity and even the risk of death as a result of the heat waves. The effects can be direct or indirect, local and national, and short- and long-term. Therefore, they require routine preparations, that is, before the heat wave, as well as special preparations in emergencies, during the heat wave, on the personal, local and national levels."
"In light of the forecasts," Prof. Wolfson describes, "the Beersheva Municipality is currently completing the preparation of municipal heat procedures, the purpose of which is to prepare for the expected heat waves, in terms of mapping vulnerable populations and infrastructures, preparations at the level of public information, municipal preparedness for damage to infrastructure, the operation of cultural and sports events and more."