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- Paris is on high alert with a dangerous heat wave expected in France and other parts of Europe, leading officials to issue warnings and introduce measures like new water fountains and mist machines.
- France is due to hit temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit, this week, with humidity making it feel even hotter.
- Many in Paris remember a 2003 heat wave that killed 15,000 people in France.
- School exams have been postponed and swimming pools are open later, while new “cool rooms” and information hotlines have been installed.
- The city is warning that elderly and sick people are the most at risk. The local government has urged people to avoid alcohol and to spend time in cool places like supermarkets and cinemas.
Paris is preparing for an extreme heat wave by opening extra swimming pools and installing mist machines throughout the city.
The city is ramping up its preparedness in the hope of avoiding a repeat of prior heat waves that led to many thousands of deaths, mostly among the elderly and vulnerable.
Officials also postponed thousands of school exams.
Meteo France, France’s national weather agency, said parts of the country could reach 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit, on Wednesday. The temperature is unusually high, particularly for this early in the summer.
The BBC reported that humidity could make it feel like 47 degrees Celsius, or 117 Fahrenheit.
Officials across Paris are preparing for this heat. The forecast temperatures are comparable to those the country saw in 2003, when 15,000 people died across France and hospitals and morgues became overwhelmed.
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Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, enacted a heat-wave action plan on Monday, which includes creating public “cool rooms,” additional water fountains across the city, and machines that spray a cooling mist into the streets.
It has also installed devices to convert some fire hydrants into fountains and sprinklers.
Agnès Buzyn, France’s health minister, told hospitals and retirement homes to be on high alert, the France 24 broadcaster reported.
The mayor announced a phone service that elderly or sick people could register with. Officials are to call the people on a regular basis and dispatch help if necessary.
The city also warned people not to drink alcohol, to wet their bodies multiple times a day, and to “spend several hours a day in a cool place,” like a supermarket or a cinema.
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It also created a hotline that people could call to get more information throughout the day, installed public showers, and put fans in nurseries. The city says it will deliver water to homeless people.
France’s education ministry also delayed state exams for middle-school students until July, saying it was “unthinkable” to have them sit through the exams in hot rooms. Exams for students at other levels are going ahead.
The city has opened parks for longer periods and opened five new additional parks to help people deal with the heat.
The Guardian reported that the mayor said some of the city’s swimming pools would stay open after 10 p.m. and that new, temporary pools would be introduced in some of the more densely populated areas of the city. She also said people would be allowed to swim in one of the canal basins.
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Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, on Monday said “sick people, pregnant women, infants, and elderly people are the most vulnerable.”
“So we must be vigilant with them and have prevention measures in place in order to intervene as quickly as possible,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Meteo France calls the weather “exceptional for the end of June.” Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Belgium could also get record-breaking temperatures.
“This heat wave could be remarkable for how early it has come as well as its intensity,” Meteo France said.
“It may take until next weekend or the start of July for the heat to finally ease across northern Europe,” AccuWeather said.
In the meantime, Europeans are finding ways to keep colder. Bloomberg reported that a German man stripped naked and ran through a shop’s frozen aisle to cool down.
- REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Experts say climate change is making heat waves in Europe more common.
Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research told the Associated Press that “monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate.”
“This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil, and gas.”