The Dutch National Heatwave Plan (Nationaal Hitteplan) that was developed in 2007, at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), has been used every year since. Evaluations pointed out where the National Heatwave Plan could be improved, and RIVM has updated the text accordingly.
The updated National Heatwave Plan more clearly states the various responsibilities of the different organisations during prolonged periods of excessively hot weather. The level of accuracy in predicting such weather conditions has also been improved, in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), with warning criteria having been set at four days of continuous heat, instead of five. In addition, the practical information on measures has been transferred to the new guideline of the Dutch Public Health Service (GGD) on summer-related health risks and the accompanying toolkit 'Hitte' ('heat').
Continuing hot weather poses a health risk for certain groups of people, such as the elderly, people in care institutions, and chronically ill and overweight people. Risks vary from light symptoms, such as fatigue or itchiness, to severe complaints with possibly life-threatening consequences.
The purpose of the National Heatwave Plan is to provide organisations with a timely warning in case of an expected prolonged period of hot weather. Organisations include GGD branches, health organisations and the Dutch Red Cross. They will then warn their target groups and regional contacts, who will be provided through the Heat Plan with measures to limit the impact of such hot weather conditions.