21 'canicule' alerts as France bakes in new heatwave

Forecasters warn temperatures are expected to be 'at least as high' as they were during June's  heatwave

A total of 21 departments in the southwest and centre-east of France are on orange weather alert as the country swelters under its second heatwave in less than a month.

Forecasters warn temperatures are expected to be 'at least as high' as they were during June's  heatwave, when a new national record of 46C was recorded in the Hérault. The mercury in Paris, where it has not rained since June 21, is expected to pass 40C the first time, officially, since 1947 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Gard, Hérault and Vaucluse, have experienced midday temperatures of 30C or more every day for a month.

© Météo France

The departments affected by Météo France's orange alert - the second-highest of its four-colour weather-warning levels - are: Ardèche (07), Ariège (09), Aveyron (12), Charente (16), Charente-Maritime (17), Corrèze (19), Dordogne (24), Drôme (26), Haute-Garonne (31), Gers (32), Gironde (33), Isère (38), Landes (40), Lot (46), Lot-et-Garonne (47), Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64), Hautes-Pyrénées (65), Rhône (69), Tarn (81), Tarn-et-Garonne (82) and Haute-Vienne (87).

This heatwave is expected to last three to four days, with relatively cooler weather forecast on Friday, compared to the six days of scorching temperatures last month.

Wednesday is expected to be the hottest day of the week across most of the country. By then, much of the country will already be sweltering. Temperatures in the southwest were expected to nudge 40C on Monday. By Tuesday the heatwave will have spread north - and will cover much of the country, pushing maximum temperatures up to the milestone 40C mark across.

Brittany will experience the first signs of relief from the current heatwave on Thursday, and forecasters have said that they expect that the colder weather from the Atlantic will push into the rest of the country on Friday.

Météo France's orange alert indicates that weather conditions are considered abnormally dangerous and that there is a risk to health if precautions are not taken. People are urged to remain vigilant, avoid unecessary risks, and follow advice given by authorities.

They include a reminder that everyone should drink a minimum of 1.5litres of water per day - and avoid going out between 11am and 9pm.

Anyone who has to go out during the hottest part of the day is advised to wear light, loose clothing and a hat, and keep their exposure to the heat to a minimum. Anyone who works outside or plays sports should also be alert to the risks of dehydration and heat stroke.

Heat stroke symptoms include having hot and dry skin, a fever above 40C, headache, nausea, intense thirst, confusion, lack of energy, and even seizures.

Older people, those with chronic conditions or mental health issues, people who take regular medication, and those who are particularly isolated, are at particular risk. Caregivers, friends and relatives are recommended to visit affected individuals at least twice a day

To help keep cool, people can take cold showers or baths, or dampen their skin with a cold flannel. Where possible, authorities advise spending two or three hours a day in air-conditioned venues, such as supermarkets or cinemas.

For more information and advice, visit www.sante.gouv.fr

Météo France's four-colour weather alert system was introduced in 2001. The red canicule alert issued on June 28 in four departments in the south was the first issued for high temperatures since the system began, and just the 29th time in total.

The others have been for rain, flooding - which were initially separate but are now, generally, combined - storm-force winds, or snow and ice.

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