France is suffocating: the thermometer exceeds 40°C, the children are exempt from school

France is suffocating: the thermometer exceeds 40°C, the children are exempt from school

A third of the country in red or orange vigilance, with a thermometer often exceeding 40°C: the heat wave of unprecedented precocity is growing in France, with temperature records expected until Saturday.

In total, 37 departments, or 18 million people, are concerned.

From Friday, 40°C will be frequently reached or even exceeded over a large south-west quarter, according to Météo-France. Thursday in the Hérault, in Saint-Jean-de-Minervois, the thermometer has already climbed to 40°C: a record of precocity for metropolitan France excluding Corsica, according to Météo-France. On Saturday, absolute records could fall on the Landes, Poitou-Charentes, Vendée axis.

The Ministry of Health has activated a free Canicule info service number ( 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 at home. them on Friday.

An early heat wave

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, will be in Vienne, placed on red alert, from 9:30 a.m. to “take stock of the situation on the mobilization of state services” in the face of “risks linked to the heat wave”, first at the prefecture then in an Ehpad in Poitiers, before going to the neighboring town of Smarves where she will hold a press briefing at the end of the morning.

Red vigilance, the highest level of the “national heat wave plan”, will begin Friday from 2 p.m. in 12 departments 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.

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 north-west.>- Climate change marker –

France has been affected since Tuesday by this early heat wave, arriving from the Maghreb via the Iberian Peninsula. Temperatures soared across Spain last weekend, with highs of up to 43 degrees and the first wildfires. In northern Italy, water is rationed in several towns in the Po Plain and Lombardy is preparing to declare a state of emergency in the face of a record drought threatening crops. “This is the earliest heat wave ever recorded in France” since 1947, says Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo-France.

“Many monthly or even absolute records (…) should be broken in several regions”, he said, seeing it as a “marker of climate change”.

We are even more vigilant than usual with the elders

This is the fourth time – and the earliest in the season – that heat wave red vigilance has been used since the system was put in place after the lessons learned from the historic heat wave of 2003 which killed more than 15,000 people in France.

Twenty years later, retirement homes have put in place measures to protect their residents with watering facades, ice cubes in drinks, fans and prolonged sequences in air-conditioned rooms. But seniors isolated at home remain vulnerable.

“We are even more vigilant than usual with the elders. It’s hard for them. Often, they are alone, physically diminished, with a loss of autonomy”, testifies Sarah Jalabert, home nurse in the Tarn.

In this department, the prefecture announced the cancellation on Friday of the start of the second stage of the Route d’Occitanie which was to take place in Graulhet, as well as the broadcast on a giant screen in Castres of the semi-final of the Top 14 Castres-Toulouse, taking place Friday in Nice.

In Gironde, the prefect announced that she was going to ban “all public demonstrations outdoors or in non-air-conditioned premises” from Friday 2:00 p.m., specifying that the prefectures of the six other departments of New Aquitaine placed in red vigilance should take the same measure.

Further north, in Vendée, the prefecture has lifted the confinement measures for poultry following the avian flu epizootic. 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 Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, road users are asked to reduce their speed by 20 km/h, especially on motorways, due to an episode of ozone pollution linked to the heat wave.

In Ile-de-France, the maximum speed of vehicles will have to be reduced by 10 km/h. For their part, the firefighters on alert watch for the outbreak of fire, favored by the heat and the drying of the vegetation. in addition, air conditioners and fans are driving up electricity consumption, forcing France to import, according to RTE.

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