The 12 departments placed on red vigilance on Thursday are located in the south-west and the Atlantic coast: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Deux-Sèvres, Tarn, Tarn- et-Garonne, Vendée and Vienne.
Red vigilance, the highest level of the “national heat wave plan”, corresponds both to an exceptional weather event and to a health alert justifying “maximum mobilization”.
Météo-France has also extended orange vigilance to a total of 25 departments, from Aude in the south of the country, to the center and Morbihan in the northwest.
The thermometer was expected to reach 36 to 39°C in Occitania, New Aquitaine and in the Rhône valley, with temperatures remaining high at night.
At Météo-France, Olivier Proust predicts for Saturday “40 to 42°C from southern Aquitaine to Berry, and 35 to 40°C almost everywhere. Only the coasts of the Channel, western Brittany and the Mediterranean rim are spared the threshold of very high temperatures”.
– Cool at the pool –
In Toulouse, residents flocked to the Alfred-Nakache swimming pool to cool off, while the mercury reached 39°.
“It’s important for children, but also for adults,” smiles Leïla Kabou, whose two sons, aged seven and 15, are in the water. “There was a big heat wave in 2003, but not like this,” she says, explaining that she waits “in the evening to take a walk with the children in the parks”.
The day before, this swimming pool, exceptionally open until 8:30 p.m. because of the heat, had already welcomed 3,200 people.
“At home, it’s an oven, I’m in the attic and sometimes it’s hotter than outside,” laments Marie, 39, who does not wish to give her name.
With the heat, air quality has also deteriorated in Ile-de-France as well as in several departments of Occitanie, Paca and Hauts-de-France.
In several large cities, where the density of buildings accentuates the feeling of furnace, the opening hours of parks and gardens have been extended.
Almost twenty years after the heat wave of summer 2003, which killed more than 15,000 people, nursing homes are adapting with watering the facades, ice cubes in drinks, fans and prolonged sequences in air-conditioned rooms.
The situation of isolated and therefore more vulnerable elderly people is of particular concern.
“We are even more vigilant than usual with the elders”, testifies Sarah Jalabert, home nurse in the Tarn.
“It’s hard for them. Often, they are alone, physically diminished, losing their autonomy (…) There is a risk of dehydration. We invite them to open the windows and shutters in the cool, but often, as they feel insecure, they do not do it”, she regrets.
– Electricity import –
The Ministry of Health has activated a free Canicule info service number (08.00.06.66.66) in order to answer questions and give advice, and that of Education has announced that schoolchildren and college students from the 12 departments in red will be able to stay home on Friday.
For their part, the firefighters on alert watch for the outbreak of fire, favored by the heat and the drying of the vegetation.
Thus a fire destroyed 25 hectares in Aveyron and a hamlet of about thirty inhabitants was evacuated. Farmers were called to vigilance regarding “vegetation fires during the harvest” by the prefecture of Deux-Sèvres, where a hundred hectares burned on Wednesday.
In the Landes, the prefecture has restricted vehicle access to rural roads, forest and cycle paths, as well as logging and certain recreational and sporting activities.
In Spain, where the heat wave has been hitting for six days, with temperatures exceeding 40°C, the emergency services were fighting several fires.
The southerly wind could increase the risk in France on Saturday.
In Nice, the mayor Christian Estrosi asked the government to “be able to reuse treated wastewater”, in particular for cleaning streets, roads and supplying decorative fountains.
Voies navigables de France (VNF) called for caution, stressing that “the canals and rivers in its network were not made for swimming” and that accidents occurred every year.
In addition, air conditioners and fans are driving up electricity consumption, forcing France to import, according to RTE.
France is experiencing increasingly frequent heat waves: the multiplication, intensification and lengthening of these phenomena constitute an unequivocal marker of global warming, according to scientists.