Tatabánya established a mix of soft measures to deal with the impacts of heatwaves and wildfires. Among these, a heat- and UV-alert system is in place: when extremely hot weather is predicted, a heatwave and UV protocol is set in motion. The Hungarian Meteorological Service and the National Public Health Office report warnings for heatwaves or high UV radiation to the local authorities. After that, the citizens receive an alert in printed or electronic form. The protocol consists of a series of activities providing advice to citizens on how to prepare for the forecasted heatwave and who to contact in case of health problems. A key aspect is that information reaches citizens rapidly and through different channels (local radio, television, the city’s homepage, Facebook). As soon as an impending heatwave is forecasted, the National Medical Officer of Hungary is informed. Instructions for citizens, institutions, health care organisations and media, updated every 30 minutes, are distributed through various media channels: the local and regional media are alerted. Information is also distributed through other channels: the city homepage, mail delivery and faxes to all authorities, institutions, public companies and employers.
The heat alert system has been activated several times already: in the last 8 years (up to 2020) an average of 3-5 alerts were yearly issued in Tatabánya. The UV alert system was activated once every year, except in 2012 when it was activated twice. According to the Mayor’s Office, an increasing number of inhabitants are now aware of what they should do during a heatwave or UV radiation alert.
Under the Smart Sun Educational Programme different vulnerable groups (e.g. infants and their parents, youngsters, old people and ill people) are made aware of the harmful effects of heatwaves and high solar activity on the human body, as well as of the simple and effective measures on how to protect themselves and take care of other people (e.g. drinking 2-3 litres of still water per day, staying indoors or in shady places between 11:00 and 15:00h, wearing light hats, wearing sun glasses, etc.).
Adults are also made aware of their rights concerning the working environment, especially if their work includes outdoor activities. For example, employers should supply employees working outside with drinking water, proper clothing, and should take care to implement an appropriate work regime (1 hour of working outdoors in the heat wave should be followed by 30 minutes of rest).
Higher temperatures during longer periods, reduced precipitation, and changing wind patterns increase the risk of forest fires in many European regions. However, only small-scale fires (mainly nearby built-up areas) occurred in the last few years. The city of Tatabánya in Hungary has enhanced the capability of fire brigades to fight forest fires by:
- providing specialist training and equipment
- improving the road network in forest areas, thereby improving accessibility for the emergency services during a fire
- providing watchtowers or camera systems that can help to detect fires early; and
- offering well-managed emergency response systems.
The use of a fire weather index system helps the fire brigade to prepare for and respond to such events. A strengthening of local and regional disaster management has led to a reduction in damage from forest fires and the number of casualties among fire fighters. An additional side benefit is that these measures have also helped with managing other natural hazards, such as storm events and floods, which are projected to occur more frequently as a result of projected climate change.