German citizens set up heatwave helpline amid rising temperatures

Heatwave. Copyright Michael Probst/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Kristina Jovanovski with Rory Elliott Armstrong
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Some have taken it upon themselves to be able to survive the season and have questioned the government's plans for the summer.


German resident Elke Schilling has set a helpline for elderly people who suffer from the hot topic of the season: the weather.

“They fear about this day getting hotter and hotter and just not being able to get out because it’s too hot and they tell us they don’t know how to get some food because they can’t go out to buy any,” Elke, founder of the Silbernetz helpline, explained.

More than an estimated 4000 people in Germany died due to heat last year.

The country’s health ministry has created a website to try to decrease those numbers. It details what local governments can do to help those most vulnerable, including children and elderly people.

It is part of a national plan to improve the response to heat waves. The ministry said it was becoming more common because of climate change.

The government said it was following the example of France, which developed several measures for heat waves after one in 2003 led to about 15,000 people dying due to climate change.

Scientists said cities were especially impacted by heatwaves because of their dense infrastructure trapped heat in. But they added temperatures could be lowered by making space for parks and trees.

Diego Rybski, a senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, said adding green space in cities was not expensive.

“Currently the tenancy goes into what’s called re-densification, so more filling the empty spaces in the city and this is then contrary to what we actually need," he said.

"We need more of the green space between the buildings but now the green spaces are more filled with additional buildings."

Germany’s health ministry said more projects, including possible phone alerts, would begin in midsummer. 

Euronews asked the health ministry when such a system would be implemented but the ministry could not give a time schedule.

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