Climate crisis: Europe's cities dangerously unprepared for heat wave hell
By Ivana Kottasová
"Healthy people in general are okay in hot weather as long as they take some precautions, but when it starts getting to about 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) even healthy people are at risk," said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which is part of London School of Economics.
Cities were the worst hit. Paris implemented a special heat plan, designed to give its inhabitants relief. The plan was devised in the aftermath of the 2003 heat wave that killed 14,000 people in France alone. The city set up public cooling rooms in municipal buildings, put mist showers in the streets and kept parks and swimming pools opened longer than usual.
While the current European temperatures of just above 100 degrees Fahrenheit might not seem too high to some, they are way above the region's seasonal averages.
And since most of Europe's infrastructure and cities were built well before anyone was aware of the danger of climate change, that makes the heat wave even more dangerous.
"Cities that are used to more temperate climates, like London, are finding it very difficult to cope," Ward said.
"Places which experience cold winters tend to worry more about insulation ... but of course some of the measures you design to keep heat in during the winter can prevent heat escaping in the summer, making it even more of a problem," he added.