UN warns of risks as Europe enjoys scorcher

UN warns of risks as Europe enjoys scorcher
Tourists walk under an umbrella, in Rome, on July 1, 2015, as temperatures soared above 40 degrees in western Europe.
PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA - The United Nations warned on Wednesday of the dangers posed by hot weather, especially to children and the elderly, as much of Europe sweltered in a heatwave whose intensity it blamed on climate change.

Authorities should give people as much warning as possible of potentially dangerous high temperatures so that they take can precautions, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Health Organization said.

It also reminded people to drink plenty of water.

Tens of thousands of people died across Europe in a 2003 heatwave and again in Russia in 2010.

Separately, AccuWeather said that while extreme heat has already built up across Spain and Portugal, hot conditions will expand across Europe this week. In Paris, temperatures are expected to peak on Wednesday near 38 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).

Young children, the elderly and people working outside were most vulnerable to the effects, which range from heat rash to cramps, exhaustion, dehydration, heatstroke and death, the U.N. guidance said, urging people to take precautions.

"These range from simple actions at the personal level, such as ensuring sufficient indoor ventilation or liquid intake to the initiation of community-based 'buddy' systems and transport of the vulnerable to dedicated cooling centres."

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense as a result of climate change, the U.N. said.

Cities particularly were heating up as buildings trapped hot air. "So when you look at the pattern here in Europe in the last 10 or 15 years - 2003, 2010 and 2015 - we're seeing temperatures that set records," Maxx Dilley, WMO climate expert, told Reuters.

"So it's quite unusual to see so many hot episodes so close, so frequently and occuring so close to each other," he said.

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