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Heatwave and pollution alert

Temperatures expected to hit 38C in south-west but Paris faces ozone danger

21 July 2013

A HEATWAVE strikes France from today, with the west and especially the south-west expecting temperatures of up to 38C.

Paris and Rhône department have been put on yellow alert, but the capital is facing a double whammy, with the expected high temperature of 35C, intense sun and no wind reacting with vehicle emissions to cause a peak in ozone air pollution.

Old people, those with breathing difficulties and young children are warned to avoid strenuous activity and to keep away from busy streets.

After the heatwave disaster of 2003 when 15,000 people died, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said she was keeping a close eye on the situation.

Temperatures are expected to hit 35C in Paris, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon, 36C across most of the south-west and peaking at 38C in some areas.

Météo France has listed five main measures for people to take:
• Drink 1.5litres per day
• Avoid going out in the hottest times and avoid physical activity. Keep your home cool: close windows and shutters during the day and open them at night when it is cooler
• Freshen and cool your body several times a day by taking showers or baths or using a wet facecloth to wipe yourself down
• If possible, spend two or three hours in a cool place such as a cinema, a library or a supermarket
• Help frail and aged people – and, if you need help, ask your mairie.

In Paris, social workers are also contacting the 20,000 “frail or old” people on their at-risk register and giving advice on how to keep cool and avoid dehydration. Other cities will follow suit if the rising temperatures continue, although Météo France said things should ease.

To avoid worsening the air pollution problem, the Prefecture de Police in Paris has called on drivers to avoid unnecessary journeys, cut their speeds and avoid driving through Paris.

Train have also been asked to cut their speed. The RFF, which is responsible for the tracks across France, has asked SNCF to reduce speeds because of the heat expanding the rails and affecting overhead cables. Trains in Ile-de-France, Picardie and Pays de la Loire are affected, with TGVs yesterday limited to 240kph from 300kph and TERs and RER trains reduced to 40kph.

Police in Bordeaux say they have arrested several people after a wave of illegal pool parties, where groups have broken into closed or private swimming pools.

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