Europe tourists told to make 'extreme heat plans' as wildfires rage in Greece and nine French regions issue alerts

19 July 2023, 11:53

Europe is ablaze under a serious heatwave
Europe is ablaze under a serious heatwave. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

British tourists holidaying in the heat of southern Europe will have to prepare "extreme heat plans".

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In a stark assessment of rising global temperatures, travellers to hot weather regions in future years should limit their outdoor activities so they are less exposed to higher levels of heat, the UN's weather and medical bodies said.

The announcement follows wildfires raging around Athens while French regions and Italian cities have issued heat alerts.

Tourists will need to take proper precautions, such as regularly resting, wetting their skin and keeping a close eye on weather forecasts.

That comes on top of the typical precautions like using hats, sunscreen and dressing appropriately.

Read more: 'We are living in a nightmare': Wildfires rage across Europe as continent braces for hottest day ever

The World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said: "Extreme heat takes the highest toll on the lives and health of those least able to manage the deadly consequences, such as older persons, infants and children."

People with heart, kidney and lung conditions are also vulnerable, the agencies said.

Tourists in Rome try to keep cool
Tourists in Rome try to keep cool. Picture: Alamy

"The ability to change travel plans is advisable for travellers who are over 65 years of age, have pre-existing health conditions or have limited options for management of very young children."

Tourists have also been advised to keep their accommodation cool and to ensure they keep up to date with advice from local authorities.

Europe has been plunged into what the Italian media dubbed a "week of hell", with some parts hitting more than 40C. There are fears Europe will break its record temperature - 48.8C in Sicily, two years ago.

Read more: London Fire Brigade 'prepared' for heatwaves with new specialist training after UK wildfire destroyed 16 homes last year

Areas like Mandra have been devastated by fires
Areas like Mandra have been devastated by fires. Picture: Alamy
Thanassis Barberakis walks at his family shipyard damaged from the fire in Mandra, west of Athens
Thanassis Barberakis walks at his family shipyard damaged from the fire in Mandra, west of Athens. Picture: Alamy

In Greece, wildfires continue to rage west of Athens and in Corinth.

Firefighting planes have been called in while recent days, while thousands were forced to flee coastal resorts. Some 1,200 children had to be rushed out of a holiday camp about 50 miles west of the capital.

Blazes are also being tackled in the Swiss Alps.

A wildfire has broken out in Agia Sotira near Athens
A wildfire has broken out in Agia Sotira near Athens. Picture: Alamy

Almost every major Italian city has been put on a red alert for heat, with hospitals told to implement "heat codes".

This sees medical facilities set aside dedicated doctors to help people suffering from problems due to the warmth, such as heatstroke and dehydration.

Amid reports of people fainting in Rome - which reported a record 41.8C on Tuesday - Italy's health ministry said the amount of patients suffering from the heat had increased by 20%.

There has been so much demand for air conditioning that Palermo, in Sicily, saw power cuts.

Nine regions in southwest France have issued intense heat alerts.

Read more: One month of rain to fall in just 48 hours this weekend as UK prepares for 'washout summer'

Herault, Gard, Vaucluse, Var, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhone, Alpes-Maritimes, and both departments on Corsica have been told to "be very vigilant" by Meteo-France, the national weather service.

There are fears this heatwave could last for weeks. The WMO warned earlier in the week that temperatures would intensify around Wednesday and a "further continuation into August is likely".

The WMO has blamed unprecedented sea surface temperatures and low Arctic sea-ice levels.

Its senior heatwave adviser John Nairn said it has been worsened by global warming.

The US and China have also experienced heatwaves.