Remembering 2003's deadly heatwave, France's government has taken care to implement safety precautions as thermometres rise dangerously high nationwide.
In France, it is known as the canicule. In English, it’s simply called a heatwave. And while speakers of both languages can probably agree that oppressively hot weather typically renders people sluggish and listless, the trauma of France’s last major canicule in 2003 has put the country’s authorities in overdrive.
Helpful links and phone numbers
To check regular weather updates in France, you can visit Météo France's website.
For more information on France's heat wave and prevention measures, you can visit the ministry of health's website, or call the Canicule service hotline:+33 (0) 800 06 66 66.
French weather services have forecasted temperatures in the mid to high 30s Celsius (high 80s to low 90s Farenheit) in the coming days, which, after a summer of mediocre weather, has come to some as a welcome reprieve. But while some Parisians plan evening picnics on the edge of the Seine and others eagerly look forward to a weekend on the beach, the ministry of health has been busy taking precautions against the sweltering heat.
The country’s main weather service, Météo France, has put 33 regional departments on “orange alert”, the second highest warning level, with temperatures expected to spike as high as 43 C (109 F) in parts of southern France on Saturday. The ministry of health has also urged the public to stay on guard against possible health risks, putting a special emphasis on the country’s more vulnerable populations, especially the elderly.
The government’s vigilance, however, is not without good reason. The country’s last canicule, in summer 2003, remains a searing memory for many. Record highs were broken in cities across the country, and the relentless heat dragged on for over a week.
It was the hottest summer France had seen in 150 years and one of the deadliest. According to a 2004 Senate report, the heatwave claimed 14,802 lives in France during the first three weeks of August, the vast majority of which were people over the age of 75. The report stated that, “although our country excels in healthcare, the lag in prevention is now obvious.”
Even though forecasts for the coming days don’t necessarily compare with that of 2003, France’s government is not taking any risks. As to be expected, health officials have recommended regularly drinking water to avoid dehydration or overheating, but have also advised those over the age of 65 to give periodic updates to family and loved ones and to request help if needed.
“The ministry of health reminds everyone of the importance of providing support to vulnerable people in order to prevent any health issues during this intense heatwave”, the ministry said in a statement published on Thursday.
Paris feels the heat
Kids cool off at the Parc Javel-Citroën fountains in southern Paris as temperatures soared across France, sparking “orange alerts” in 33 regional departments, primarily in southern and central France. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Despite the warnings, some sunbathers braved the heat to catch the early morning sun. Mindful of the August 2003 heatwave, which killed nearly 15,000 people, French officials have been particularly vigilant this time. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
As French authorities issued health notices to stay hydrated, prices of chilled half-litre water bottles climbed up to 2.50 euros at some street stalls around the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Parisians flocked to the artificial beaches of "Paris Plages", set up every summer along the River Seine in the land-locked French capital. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Competition to snag parasols and deck chairs at “Paris Plages” was fierce over the weekend. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
This German couple opted for chocolate, apricot and raspberry ice-cream parlor at Berthillon, the landmark luxury ice-cream and sorbet store in the upscale île Saint-Louis district. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
The city of Paris warns visitors to protect themselves from the sun in several different languages. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Most tourists hide beneath caps and parasols anyway, especially on bridges around île de la Cité, where there are few trees. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
"When you live in England, you take all the heat you can find!" said these tourists while enjoying chilled white wine in the Marais district. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Lennon the dog got a break from the heat. But Adeline Demeure, who runs a used book stall on the banks of the Seine, said business was sluggish as people rushed past in their quest to snag a cool spot at “Paris Plages”. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Elena, a homeless Romanian, used a Metro railing to dry the clothes she washed in a public fountain in downtown Paris. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Nap time for the Koki family in Parc Montsouris, in the quiet 14th district. Photo credit: Andrea Davoust/FRANCE24
Date created : 2012-08-17