“Freecooling” for the oldest, suspended outings for young people, place of freshness for the homeless… Faced with scorching temperatures, preventive measures are multiplying and red vigilance will be extended to 19 departments, with 37 in orange .
Ardèche, Drôme, Haute-Loire and Rhône have been at the highest level of vigilance since Tuesday noon. They will be joined on Wednesday by 15 others: Ain, Loire, Isère, Lozère, Gard, Vaucluse, Hérault, Aveyron, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Aude, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Haute-Garonne and Gers.
Europe is currently experiencing a late heat wave for the season with temperatures that can locally exceed 42°C – the thermometer reached 43°C in Puy-Saint-Martin (Drôme). Monday was the hottest day ever recorded in Europe after August 15, with temperatures struggling to drop at night, as in Nice with 29.6°C as a minimum.
Everywhere the authorities are multiplying the instructions of caution, several ministers have been mobilized to crisscross the country and recall the preventive measures, such as Aurélien Rousseau (Health), traveling to the Valence hospital on Tuesday. Faced with the heat wave which is crushing two-thirds of the country – only the northern third being classified green – the inhabitants are trying to adapt.
Following the passage in red vigilance, I went to the Drôme with hospital staff, elected officials and state agents. Everyone is mobilized in the face of this unprecedented heatwave episode in terms of its intensity and duration. Let us remain collectively vigilant and united. pic.twitter.com/9Zn0Rbt0gA
— Aurelien Rousseau (@aur_rousseau) August 22, 2023
The Red Cross opened a “refreshed site” for the homeless in a gymnasium in central Lyon on Tuesday morning, “extreme heat representing as many risks as extreme cold“, Raimon Schmidt, a Red Cross official in Lyon, told AFP. The rate of marauding has doubled since Lyon went into orange vigilance since mid-August.
The outings planned by establishments welcoming minors (child protection, leisure reception, holiday stays and scouting reception) are canceled, specified for its part the Métropole de Lyon, an instruction which also concerns nurseries. Two museums in Lyon – Confluence and Lugdunum – will be free until Saturday.
Ehpads are also subject to special precautions. In Bordeaux, the Henri Dunant establishment of the Red Cross benefits from a “freecooling” system, air from the outside reprocessed and redistributed so that residents can spend three hours a day in the cool, as recommended by the authorities. . “For the environment and residents, it’s healthier“, explains the administrative manager Laure Angevin.
Pharmacists try to advise customers to combat the heat. “We sold rehydration solutions a little more than usual. It’s powder that you dilute in water and drink it,” notes Alexandra Dos Santos, 26, at the Hôtel Dieu pharmacy in Lyon. A little earlier, the pharmacy on Place Bellecour rescued a young hitchhiker who had sunstroke. “We immediately refreshed it,” explains Dr. Xavier Bonnet.
In Haute-Loire, in the emergency room of Puy-en-Velay, vigilance is also required. “We are not too affected at the moment in terms of emergency calls or admissions, but there may be a 24 or 48 hour delay”, says Stéphane Monteil, part of this service. Same story at Montélimar hospital.
In Nice, the first effects are felt at the Pasteur hospital: “This morning we had about ten people with intestinal pain, pathologies often linked to this rise in temperature”, told AFP Séverine Kacemi, caregivers manager of the emergency department. “But we no longer have these elderly people who were arriving en masse in a state of complete dehydration like during the 2003 episode”, she observes.
For those looking for milder temperatures, there is Brittany. The La Vallée campsite in Erquy, in the bay of Saint-Brieuc, thus welcomes a couple from Cahors “come to spend a few days in the cool and escape the 40 degrees at home”, according to Stéphane Brouard, the manager.
In this context of lasting heat, air quality is deteriorating and ozone concentrations were on the rise in the southern and eastern half of the country, according to the Prév’Air website. Four departments in the south-east of Europe – Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Alpes-Maritimes – are on level 2 alert for Wednesday. According to scientists, repeated heat waves are an unequivocal marker of global warming and these heat waves are expected to multiply, lengthen and intensify.