Heatwave alert: recommendations in France this week

HEAT 2022. Vigilance is essential. A heatwave episode begins in France this Wednesday, June 15 and until the weekend. Temperatures are 30 degrees everywhere, and up to 40°C locally. Departments in yellow or red vigilance, health consequences, government recommendations: anti-heat wave advice.

[Mise à jour le 15 juin 2022 à 15h34] Stay in the shade and hydrate yourself enough! A heat wave early is set up Wednesday June 15 by the south of France confirms Météo France. It will last until the weekend. The 3 days of Thursday, Friday and Saturday will probably be the hottest at the scale of the territory. The nighttime temperatures will become more and more sweltering with lows often reaching or exceeding the 20°C threshold. thes maximum should reach or exceed 35 to 38 degrees in the middle of the week, i.e. 10 to 15 degrees more than the average for the season. Note the remarkable precocity of this episode which is an aggravating factor” warns Météo France. Since 2015, the heat waves have increase in frequency and intensity in France with an occurrence earlier (in June) or later (late August-early September) during the summer period. Among the main heat waves in June in Francethose of june 1947, 1976, 20032005, 2006 and closer 2017 and 2019. The elderly people are very vulnerable to high temperatures and special attention should be paid to them. Food, drinks, effects on health… All you need to know about consequences of heat on the human body and how to protect yourself.

What is the definition of heatwave?

Word “heat wave” comes from the Latin “canicula” which means “little female dog”. Canicula is the name given to the star Sirius (which comes from the Greek “seirius”, meaning “burning”, “fiery”). which is located in the constellation Canis Major. Star that rises and sets with the sun from July 22 to August 22, a period characteristic of high temperatures. The heat wave is associated with very high temperatures day and night for an extended period, usually ofat least 3 consecutive days.

Yellow, orange, red: what do the vigilance levels mean?

Departmental weather forecasts are analyzed every day during the summer by Météo-France. The results of this analysis allow Météo-France to establish the weather vigilance map which is broadcast every day at 4 p.m.

► The yellow vigilance level corresponds to two situations:

  • a heat spike: short-term exposure (1 or 2 days) to intense heat
  • a persistent episode of heat but which remains below the alert thresholds

These two situations present a risk for human health, for fragile or overexposed populations, in particular because of their working conditions or their physical activity.

► The orange vigilance level corresponds to a heat wave: period of intense heat for which the averages over 3 consecutive days of night and day temperatures reach or exceed the departmental thresholds, and which is likely to constitute a health risk, particularly for fragile or overexposed people.

► The red vigilance level corresponds to an extreme heat wave : exceptional heat wave in terms of its duration, its intensity, its geographic extension, with a strong health impact for all types of population, and which can lead to the appearance of collateral effects, particularly in terms of business continuity.

What are the recommendations and good actions in the event of a heat wave?

In the event of a heat wave, the government recommends:

  • Drink water and stay cool
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat enough
  • Close shutters and windows during the day, ventilate at night.
  • Get your body wet
  • Give and take news of loved ones.
Red Cross recommendations in case of hot weather
Red Cross recommendations in case of hot weather © Red Cross

What are the effects and risks of the heat wave on health?

Prolonged exposure to heat is a major stress for the body, recalls the Ministry of Health. the human body tries to adapt to it. He sweat more and the blood vessels dilate. If it fails to maintain its temperature around 37°C when it is very hot or if body fluids or salts are not adequately replaced, several problems can arise:

Extreme heat can also aggravate pre-existing illnesses, being responsible for heat-related illnesses. Taking certain medications can make heat-related effects worse, especially in people at risk.

Cramps, nausea, inexplicable state of fatigue, severe headache, incoherent talk or high fever: Call 15

Heat stroke and heat wave

Heat stroke or “hypothermia” corresponds to overheating of the body: it can no longer cope with the increase in internal temperature linked to high temperatures. It mainly affects athletes, but also the elderly, outdoor workers and young children during peak heat. This also applies to adults who stay too long in confined and poorly ventilated rooms. For example, staying for hours in a car or in an RER in the heat presents a big risk. Cramps, headaches, hot, flushed skin… The first warning signs that must grow to call 15.

Dehydration and heat wave

Puffs of sweat when drinking a glass of water, absence of urine for 5 hours or dark urine, dry lips… Beware of dehydration, which is particularly common in the event of a heat wave. Concretely: a person who sweats and does not drink enough becomes dehydrated. His body lacks water and becomes dehydrated. The elderly are most at risk.


For the elderly, patients with chronic diseases (kidney, heart, liver, respiratory failure, diabetes, cancers, etc.), patients taking certain medications (diuretics, neuroleptics, antidepressants): hyponatremia (decrease in the concentration of salt in the blood) is a risk increased in hot weather. For those at risk: do not exceed a supply of 1.5 liters of water in addition to foods rich in water, eat a balanced diet, avoid going outside during the hottest hours and see your doctor if you are following a low-salt diet.

Why should we avoid drinking alcohol when it’s hot?

Consuming alcoholic beverages in hot weather potentially worsens the effects of alcohol and heat on the body.

  • An alcoholic drink does not allow you to quench your thirst. On the contrary, alcohol increases the risk of dehydration due to its diuretic action.
  • The alcohol does lose more fluid to the body, which more quickly exposes the body to heatstroke.

The best : The prevention of risks related to the interaction between alcohol and high heat requires controlled consumption, the ideal being to drink as little alcohol as possible, if at all. The limit is set at two standard drinks per day for women and three standard drinks per day for men. In case of occasional consumption, it is better not to exceed four standard glasses at once and do not hesitate to drink water between each glass. People with chronic illnesses and pregnant women are advised not to drink alcohol.

The public telephone platform, “Canicule info service” on 0800 06 66 66 (free from a landline)provides advice for se protect and protect those around you, especially the most fragile. Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

From what temperature do we speak of a heat wave?

The heat wave is associated with very high temperatures day and night for an extended period, usually ofat least 3 consecutive days. Meteorologically, it is exceptional nature of high night temperatures which marks the duration of a heatwave episode. Temperature and duration thresholds are defined and vary according to the departments, explains Météo France.
For instance : in Toulouse, Météo-France speaks of a heat wave when for 3 days and 3 nights we do not go back below 21°C minimum and we exceed 36°C maximum during the day.

The people most at risk in the event of a heat wave are: people over the age of 65 (when you are oldthe body sweats little and has difficulty maintaining itself at 37°C). and infants and children under 4 years of age (the body sweats a lot to maintain the right temperature, the child loses water and risks dehydration). Next come: people with strong physical activity, those working in the heat (bakery, laundry, construction, etc.) and the homeless.

Heat wave map

Each year, the heat wave plan is activated in France on June 1 and until September 15. Its objective is to anticipate the arrival of a heat wave, to define the actions to be implemented at the local and national levels to prevent and limit the health effects and to best adapt the prevention and management measures at the territorial level. paying particular attention to specific populations

The different levels of activation of the heat wave plan are articulated with the 4 colors of meteorological vigilance of Météo France:

  1. Level 1 – seasonal monitoring (green vigilance)
  2. Level 2 – heat warning (yellow warning)
  3. Level 3 – heatwave alert (orange alert)
  4. Level 4 – maximum mobilization (red vigilance)

When was the last heat wave in France?

Several heat waves have hit France in recent years. There was no heat wave in France during the summer of 2021. The last very extensive and intense episodes took place in 2019, between June 24 and July 7 and July 21 and 27. According to the bulletin published by Santé Publique France in September, 1435 deaths were observed (567 during the first heat wave, 868 during the second) including 572 in the departments with red vigilance and 10 workplace victims. The most affected are the over 75s, but the age groups 15-44 and 65-74 were also impacted.

Before, the months of June 2005 and 2006 experienced real heat waves with temperatures often between 35 and 40°Cin particular in the south-east and in the Rhône valley (more than 30°C every day in Lyon in 2006). The biggest heat wave was in August 2003. Its intensity, duration and geographical extent had been exceptional. She had caused 15,000 additional deaths compared to the usual mortality for this time of year. Other memorable heat waves: that of July 1983 “longest observed” recalls Météo France, and that of the summer of 1947.

heatwave france heat wave
© Meteo France

When does the heat wave occur in France?

The heat wave occurs at different times depending on the country. In France, the period of high temperatures that can lead to a heat wave can start from end of June and continue until August 15.

Emergency numbers :
  • An information number is available in the event of an episode of high heat Canicule-info-service: 0 800 06 66 66 (free call from a landline), every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • 15: the number to dial in case of illness or emergency.
  • 18 (Firefighters),
  • 112 (single European emergency number).

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