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HEALTH

France activates its heatwave plan for 2021

France has officially launched its summer heatwave plan, which this year includes text messages sent to the most vulnerable and communications translated into English for the first time.

France activates its heatwave plan for 2021
Photo: Sebastian Solom Gomis/AFP

French public health body Santé Publique France has activated its 2021 heatwave plan as the summer begins.

The annual plan to protect vulnerable people from the effects of intense heat has several new elements this year, including the translation of some communications into English for the first time, in order to reach tourists and immigrants who do not have fluent French.

Ever since the heatwave of 2003 in which an estimated 15,000 people died, many of them elderly people living alone in Paris, authorities have worked hard to protect the vulnerable during hot periods.

Measures put in place by local and national authorities include the installation of extra water fountains and cooling water-mist dispensers and free transport to ‘cool rooms’ for sick or elderly people who are suffering in the heat.

This year Santé Publique France has revised its communication strategy in the event of a heatwave

  • Requisition of TV and radio advertising spots to broadcast warnings in the event of a national heat alert

In the event of any département being placed on orange alert for heat;

  • SMS text messages sent to all vulnerable people
  • Warnings broadcast on screens in shops
  • Social media campaigns

Posters aimed at warning people of the first signs of heat-related illnesses, which includes posters in English for the first time.

Santé Publique France’s general advice for very hot weather is;

  • Avoid going out during the hottest hours
  • Keep your home cool (close windows and shutters during the day, open them in the evening and at night if it is cooler)
  • If you are unable to keep your home cool, spend several hours a day in a cool place (air conditioned cinema, public library, supermarket, museum, etc.)
  • Drink water regularly without waiting to be thirsty
  • Refresh yourself and wet your body (at least your face and forearms) several times a day
  • Eat enough food and do not drink alcohol
  • Avoid physical exertion
  • Keep in touch with family and friends, ask for help if necessary or offer help to vulnerable people
  • Regularly consult the Météo-France alert site for information

And if you’re on a long car journey

  • Remember to take drinking water and a spray bottle with you
  • Stop regularly to rest and refresh yourself
  • At some motorway service areas, water fountains or misting areas are available
  • If possible, move your journey to the least hot hours
  • Never leave a person alone in a car, especially a child, even for a few moments, as the temperature can rise very quickly.
  • Get real-time information and remote assistance on health recommendations to follow in case of hot weather

Will there be heatwaves this year?

At this stage the long-range forecast suggests that the summer will be hot and dry, but without the intense heatwaves seen in 2019, where towns all over France recorded their highest-ever temperature including an all-country record of 46C and a Paris record of 42.6C.

Météo France’s prediction for June and July is consistently warm with little rain, but with no new records. However, the weather forecaster added that there could still be local peaks in temperatures.

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WEATHER

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

Temperatures are set to rise dramatically across Italy this weekend as the country prepares for its first real heatwave of the year, meteorologists said on Friday.

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

People across Italy are preparing to head to the beach this weekend with unseasonably hot weather predicted to last for several days.

The heatwave is caused by an anticyclone named  ‘Hannibal’ sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria, bringing hot air currents across the Mediterranean and as far north as Denmark and Poland, reports news agency Ansa.

Temperatures are forecast to rise above 32-33°C in parts of the Italian north including Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Emilia Romagna, before the heatwave expands towards the centre and south of the country over the course of the weekend.

The weather is already 8°C above the seasonal average for this time of year, according to Antonio Sanò, founder of the Italian weather site IlMeteo.it, and temperatures could rise by as much as 10°C.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

In a typical year these kinds of highs wouldn’t be seen until July, Sanò said.

The incoming heatwave will be particularly humid as the anticyclone is carrying moisture from the Mediterranean sea, according to IlMeteo.

However, the relative cool of the Mediterranean basin at this time of year will contain the heat and keep the temperatures from rising into the high 30s, as would happen if the same type of weather event occurred in August.

READ ALSO: Nine in 10 Italians ‘want more action on climate crisis’, new study finds

The heatwave will stretch over the weekend and continue into next week, peaking on Tuesday, according to weather reports.

Patchy thunderstorms typical of midsummer weather are anticipated in the Alps and the Po Valley, while the centre-south is set to experience hot and sunny conditions bar some isolated storms in the mountains of Abruzzo on Sunday.

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