Parts of Europe have been hit by temperatures reaching above 40C, leading to concerns for the welfare of the young, the elderly and vulnerable.
Spain and Portugal are already on alert after temperatures reached as high as 44C in the Spanish city of Cordoba earlier in the week.
The hot weather has now reached France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was the UK’s hottest day since 2006.
The high temperatures are likely to stay for a few more days.
Paris registered temperatures of 40C, bringing back painful memories of the heat wave in 2003, that killed nearly 15,000 people. Officials in the French capital have opened special air-conditioned rooms to the public and are checking on the elderly, AFP news agency reports.
In the UK, temperatures of 34C were recorded – it’s hottest in nine years. At the Wimbledon Championships, the roof of the centre court was closed to protect the playing surface from the heat and spectators were advised to wear hats.
In Spain, warnings have already been issued to more than 40 provinces and a red alert given to the southern city of Cordoba. Neighbouring Portugal has also placed four regions on an orange alert, the second highest level possible.
Both countries have warned that the searing heat will substantially increase the risk of forest fires.
While the warmer weather is being enjoyed by many, governments advise people to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, use sunscreen when outside and drink plenty of water.
How the body copes with extreme heat
The body’s normal core temperature is 37-38C.
If it heats up to 39-40C, the brain tells the muscles to slow down and fatigue sets in. At 40-41C heat exhaustion is likely – and above 41C the body starts to shut down.
Chemical processes start to be affected, the cells inside the body deteriorate and there is a risk of multiple organ failure.
The body cannot even sweat at this point because blood flow to the skin stops, making it feel cold and clammy.
Heatstroke – which can occur at any temperature over 40C – requires professional medical help and if not treated immediately, chances of survival can be slim.
There are a number of things people can do to help themselves. These include:
- drinking fluids
- wearing damp clothes which will help lower the body’s temperature
- sticking one’s hands in cold water
- placing fans next to windows as this will draw air from outside, which should be cooler
- wearing looser clothes
- having a lukewarm shower rather than a cold one
- fanning the face rather than other parts of the body