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Germany to roll out measures against heatwave deaths, drawing lessons from France

A man uses cool morning hours for a run on a small road in the outskirts of Frankfurt.
A man uses cool morning hours for a run on a small road in the outskirts of Frankfurt. Copyright AP Photo/Michael Probst
Copyright AP Photo/Michael Probst
By Euronews Green with APTN
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The country's health minister said the French example was a 'good model' for what can be done to lessen the health risks.

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The German government is launching a campaign against deaths from heatwaves which are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Monday (26 June) that Germany is learning lessons from France, which put in place numerous measures following a devastating heatwave in 2003 that caused about 15,000 deaths in the country.

Lauterbach said the French example was a “good model” for what can be done to lessen the health risks, particularly among elderly people, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and the homeless. 

Known as the 'Plan Canicule', it includes a colour-coded warning system with four levels based on temperature, public cooling systems and healthcare preparedness. 

“(It is) relatively easy to save them, if you have a plan,” he told reporters in Berlin.

German to issue warnings about impending heatwaves

Aside from launching a dedicated website for towns and local authorities to determine the measures they can take, Lauterbach said authorities are also examining how best to issue warnings about impending heatwaves.

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said global warming is causing new health risks in Europe that can be addressed with measures like providing more shade and cool places in cities during heatwaves.

AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File
The German government said Monday June 26, 2023 that it is launching a campaign to help local authorities prevent vulnerable people from dying during heatwaves.AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File

The German plan could include targeted measures for sick and elderly people about the symptoms of heat stroke or even cooling rooms and free water dispensers.

Germany is experiencing increasingly warm summers

Last year, Germany experienced extreme heatwaves, persistent periods of drought and record sunshine, according to national weather service DWD. It was one of the country's warmest years since records began. 

But the federal government saw no need for a national heat action plan instead relying on local authorities to deal with extreme temperatures. But very few so far have put a plan in place. 

Now Lauterbach plans to meet with representatives from various sectors to work towards a national heat protection plan in the coming weeks.

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