When the current weather forecast is bringing the UK nothing but rain, closely followed by even more rain, it can seem as though summer is a long way off. However, it only takes a glance at statistics from the Met Office over the last few years to remember that a summer heatwave is increasingly likely. Climate change has meant that 2022 and 2023 were the warmest years in the UK since records began in 1884, and the warmest ten years have all occurred since 2003.

With a record-breaking temperature of 40.3°C recorded in 2022, it would take a brave person to bet against further records falling in 2024.

With this data to hand, making solid contingency plans for a possible summer heatwave isn’t just sensible, it’s crucial – particularly for estates managers in public services such as hospitals and schools.

In the UK, a large proportion of healthcare buildings were designed and built long before climate change began to rear its head, with the result that air conditioning was not specified. Incidents of overheating – where the temperature of a clinical area or hospital ward exceeds 26°C and triggers a risk assessment for vulnerable patients – have doubled at NHS sites in the last five years. This can impact hospitals in many ways, including the cancellation of operations, disruption to laboratory services, deterioration of medicines and staff illness, and combined with an increase in patient numbers due to heat-related conditions, it can have extremely serious consequences.

Similarly, UK schools weren’t built with air conditioning and many of the more modern ones have acres of glass windows, leading to oven-like temperatures in classrooms during a heatwave. Both teaching and learning can be seriously affected in hot weather; behaviour deteriorates, concentration plummets and illness increases, often just as the important June exam season gets underway. Prisons are another problem – extreme heat in often Victorian buildings can cause flashpoints in an already volatile mix of people and increase the risk of injury to inmates and staff.

Heatwaves in the 2000s are a very different issue to those we used to have. They can be genuine emergencies, and local authorities and other organisations involved in mitigating their effects need to have an effective heat management plan in place well ahead of the summer.

One of the most practical and cost-effective solutions to maintaining services in a heatwave is commercial chiller hire. The installation of full air conditioning is expensive, can be extremely disruptive to services, and would only actually be needed for three to four months of the year, whereas air chiller hire can be sourced as and when you need it. Whilst industrial chillers are often hired in an emergency situation, it makes more sense to plan ahead, so that if a heatwave looms, everything is already in place.

At Ideal Heat Solutions, when we receive a request to rent air conditioning units, we send one of our experts out to fact find, visit the site and prepare a quote for installation. Careful preparation and strict adherence to safety guidelines are essential; among other things, we’ll need to consider proximity to power sources, access and installation areas, the space available for the unit, the most effective type of chiller unit for the job and compatibility with existing infrastructure. Of course, we can (and frequently do!) respond rapidly and pull out all the stops when chiller rental is needed in an emergency, but for a less stressful situation, contingency planning makes sense.

If we’ve already visited your site and have a fact file of everything we need in advance, then sorting out commercial chiller hire from us is straightforward and immediate. Vital work such as medical operations and teaching can continue uninterrupted, and business productivity can be maintained, regardless of the heights to which the outside temperature climbs.

If you’d like to ensure everyone in your organisation keeps their cool this summer, why not contact us, and find out how our friendly and efficient team can help prevent a sweltering situation at your workplace.