Shutterstock

Researchers in the U.K. find that ambulance response times drop with the temperature.

You probably already know that crummy winter weather can be bad for your health for a number of reasons. It's flu season. Everyone's got seasonal affective disorder. You can slip and fall on a slick sidewalk, or crash your car on black ice.

But here's one winter health worry we'd never considered before: Researchers in the U.K. have found that as temperatures drop, so too do ambulance response times to your door (which might further compound your problem if you've got the flu, or SAD, or a cracked ribcage).

British researchers writing in the Emergency Medicine Journal looked at five years of ambulance-response data in the city of Birmingham. Between 2007 and 2011, they counted 794,137 emergency calls, 282,978 of them immediately life-threatening. Ambulances in the U.K. have a target of reaching 75 percent of those most dire calls within eight minutes. For several days in December of 2010 – in the midst of the coldest December in a century – ambulances in the city were averaging instead about 15 minutes per call.

Across the time period studied, the researchers concluded that with every 1 degree (Celsius) drop in air temperature, there was a 1.3 percent drop in ambulance performance, as requests for help increased and road conditions worsened. This also means, the researchers add, that we now have one more consequence to worry about with climate change that could make winter cold waves even worse.

Top image: Aaron Kohr/Shutterstock

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  2. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

  3. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  4. Design

    Reviving the Utopian Urban Dreams of Tony Garnier

    While little known outside of France, architect and city planner Tony Garnier (1869-1948) is as closely associated with Lyon as Antoni Gaudí is with Barcelona.

  5. photo: A woman crosses an overpass above the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, California.
    Transportation

    Navigation Apps Changed the Politics of Traffic

    In an excerpt from the new book The Future of Transportation, CityLab’s Laura Bliss adds up the “price of anarchy” when it comes to traffic navigation apps.

×