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 Los Angeles in 1962
    Transportation

    Mapping the Effects of the Great 1960s ‘Freeway Revolts’

    Urbanites who battled the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s saved some neighborhoods—but many highways did transform cities.

  2. a photo of a small fleet of electric Chevrolet Bolts cars.
    Transportation

    Should Electric Vehicle Drivers Pay Per Mile?

    Since EV drivers zip past gas taxes, they don’t contribute to the federal fund for road maintenance. A new working paper tries to determine whether plug-ins should pay up.

  3. A man and a woman shop at a modern kiosk by a beach in a vintage photo.
    Design

    Why Everyday Architecture Deserves Respect

    The places where we enact our daily lives are not grand design statements, yet they have an underrated charm and even nobility.

  4. Transportation

    Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

    The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.

  5. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

×