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  • Seoul City Defines “heatwave” as a Natural Disaster and Offers Special Care

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    Seoul City Defines “heatwave” as a Natural Disaster and Offers Special Care

    The Seoul City held a heatwave emergency meeting on July 30, with the participation of the mayor Park Won-soon, as well as related departments such as safety, welfare, and health to discuss ways to minimize the possible damages caused by the lasting heatwaves.

    The mayor shared, “It is important that the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the autonomous governments make use of public spaces in order to protect elderly people living alone and other groups that might be vulnerable against heatwaves throughout these dangerous times. In particular, we must make sure that these people are not exposed to heat during the hottest hours of the day.”

    Seoul Metropolitan Government will ① include heatwaves in the list of natural disasters through an ordinance, ② strengthen management and support focusing on the five most vulnerable groups against heat, and ③ expand the operation extension of Heatwave Resting Areas.

    First, Seoul City shall define heatwaves as a “natural disaster” to clarify that it is the object of disaster and safety management, and shall implement systematic management to protect the citizens’ rights to life and health based on institutional grounds.

    Currently, heatwaves are not specified as natural disasters in the relevant law, meaning that there is no legal response manual and that damages caused by heatwaves are not recognized either. As a result, Seoul City has been preparing for heatwaves with a manual of its own.

    Second, Seoul City will strengthen special protection for the five most vulnerable groups against heat: elderly people living alone, low-income vulnerable groups, homeless people, citizens living in a slice room, and construction workers.

    In particular, the city has managed safety and health of elderly people living by themselves through phone calls (337,918 calls) and home visits (59,542 visits) during the heatwave alert period (total 16 days, based on July 25th). There were actual life-saving cases such as events in which senior citizen living alone were found unconscious in their homes during home visits, but were saved after being reported to 119.

    Third, the city is currently adding “Extended Resting Areas” in 427 spots to the 3,252 “Heatwave Resting Areas” that are open for all citizens to use, so that people can find shelter during evening hours (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and on holiday

    These resting areas are operating near the residences, such as in senior citizen community centers, welfare centers, and the residents’ centers. The location and status of Heatwave Resting Areas can be found on Seoul Safety Portal (http://safecity.seoul.go.kr), and Seoul Safety App (Google Play Store, AppStore).