Germany warns of heat danger and forest fires as temperatures soar

As temperatures climbed in Germany on Tuesday, politicians and social organisations warned residents to take care in the extreme heat, and look out for vulnerable people.

A man drinks water in Hanover on Tuesday.
A man drinks water in Hanover on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

A purple heat warning was in place for most of Germany on Tuesday, as temperatures were expected to soar towards 40C in some regions. 

The extreme heat is to move eastwards on Wednesday, and it will ease off slightly on Thursday with thunderstorms expected. 

READ ALSO: Germany braces for hottest day of the year

The purple area shows the heat warning on Tuesday. Screenshot: German Weather Service (DWD).

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach urged people to help the elderly. 

“Younger people should look out for the elderly and remind them of the importance of drinking enough and keeping cool,” the minister wrote on social media while retweeting advice from the Health Ministry on coping with the heat. 

“Their lives (elderly people) are in danger in the coming days. Consideration and active help are needed now.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) advised people against drinking alcohol on hot days.

Alcoholic beverages combined with high temperatures dilate the blood vessels, blood pressure drops and the body loses fluids, the centre said. This can lead to circulatory problems and even unconsciousness.

Since the summer heat leads to increased sweating and an increased need for fluids, alcoholic drinks are not appropriate, the centre said.

The centre urged people to drink water, unsweetened tea or isotonic drinks to quench their thirst. 

‘Crisis plan’

In view of the heat-related dangers, the social association VdK demanded a heat protection plan with comprehensive plans for nursing homes.

“We urgently need a crisis plan for heat events, which causes stress, in particular to people in nursing homes and hospitals,” VdK President Verena Bentele told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

“A heat action plan is needed, with comprehensive guidelines for care providers: from the storage of medication to structural measures such as the installation of thermal windows and shading systems.”

READ ALSO: Warnings of water shortages as heatwave reaches Germany

The VdK leader also pleaded for an information campaign for family caregivers. “Those who are cared for at home must not be forgotten,” she said.

Bentele warned that the current heatwave could be life-threatening, especially for the elderly, those in need of care and the chronically ill.

The medical association Marburger Bund also urged for a national heat protection plan and a heat awareness campaign.

“Politicians must significantly expand their efforts for protective measures during hot spells,” chairwoman Susanne Johna told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

Cities and districts need heat protection plans so that senior citizen facilities, hospitals and other health care facilities can better prepare for heatwaves, which would be “best regulated by a national heat protection plan”.

Trade union Verdi called for hitzefrei (days off work or school because of heat) and longer breaks for workers because of the heat.

READ ALSO: Hitzefrei – is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school?

Authorities across Germany have been warning people to take care in the heat. 

“Drink enough, avoid direct sun and physically strenuous activities, and keep your home cool,” the health authorities in Hamburg said.

High forest fire risk

Forest fires are also a major fear as temperatures rise. The highest warning level has been issued in 10 out of Germany’s 16 federal states, including Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, as well as in Hesse, Berlin, Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony.

The Bavarian minister of forestry, Michaela Kaniber, called on all forest visitors to be especially careful.

“The current heatwave and the prevailing drought mean that in many places the forest ground is covered with dried-up, easily flammable leaves, twigs and needles. Even a carelessly discarded cigarette butt is enough to start a momentous forest fire.”

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Germany set for first heatwave of 2023 as temperatures soar to 30C

The first sweltering days of the year could arrive as early as the weekend as experts predict that Germany will see temperatures hit 30C and over, marking the first small heatwave of 2023.

Germany set for first heatwave of 2023 as temperatures soar to 30C

Anyone waiting for an excuse to head to a lake may just have a chance this weekend as the heat in Germany cranks up a notch.

From Friday, weathers experts predict that some parts of Germany – particularly along the Rhine and surrounding areas – will see temperatures shoot up to 30C and even reach 33C over the weekend.

Outside western Germany, there will still be a chance to change into summer clothes as temperatures are set to range between 24-29C on Friday across the non-coastal regions.

READ ALSO: Living in Germany: Making the most of culture and lake life

However, the southeast and east of the country are likely to see more changeable weather than the dazzling sunshine of the past few weeks, with overcast skies, showers and rainstorms expected ahead of the weekend.

The weekend looks set to be much warmer and brighter in most regions, with residents of Berlin and Brandenburg enjoying clear skies and temperatures of up to 30C. 

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), the mountainous regions in the east and southeast of the Bundesrepublik could see some isolated showers and thunderstorms, but the rest of the country should see summery highs of between 24C and 29C.

For those dreading sweltering tropical nights, there’s also good news: temperatures are likely to cool off significantly in the evenings, with highs of between 10C and 18C across Germany. 

What about the rest of the week?

Temperatures will generally stay warm this week, though the weather conditions will be much more changeable between Tuesday and Thursday.

Residents of Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony start the week off with dense clouds and some isolated showers, with the overcast skies stretches as far north as southern Brandenburg. 

In most cases, however, the weather will remain in the mid- to high-20s, with parts of Brandenburg even seeing highs of 27-28C. 

In the rainier parts of the country, however, expect slightly lower temperatures of around 22C. 

Sunny day in Munich

People enjoy sunny weather on the banks of the Isar in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

On Wednesday and Thursday, there should be a mix of sunny skies and clouds, with parts of the country also seeing some localised thunderstorms.

Once again, Bavaria could be the worst-hit by the changeable weather, with some thunder and lightning expected, although temperatures will remain summery.

After the weekend heatwave, people in the south and southwest may continue to enjoy temperatures of around 30C, though elsewhere the mercury will slip down to between 23C and 28C. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s top 10 most beautiful summer swimming spots

Mountainous areas in the south and west could experience thunderstorms, and the glaring sunshine could be interrupted by some clouds and light easterly winds. 

For those who don’t have a chance to get their barbecues out on Saturday or Sunday, however, this certainly won’t be their last chance: experts predict that this June will be much drier and sunnier than average.