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WEATHER

Everything you need to know about staying cool in a German heatwave

A new heatwave has hit Germany, with temperatures set to break the 40C barrier in parts of the country. Here's some tips on how to make the best of it.

Everything you need to know about staying cool in a German heatwave
Early morning swimmers in Hanover on August 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

As the global temperature continues to rise, extreme weather events are predicted to become more likely and this includes heatwaves, which will become more frequent and more intense.

Soaring temperatures are a challenge even for the locals, but can be particularly difficult for people who have moved to Germany from cooler countries.

So we’ve gathered together advice on how to keep yourself and your pet cool, how to regulate the temperature in your home (even if it doesn’t have air con), places to go to keep cool and those to avoid and of course how to complain about the heat in German.

READ ALSO: Germany braces for temperatures around 40C

Health advice

Let’s start with the government’s health advice on staying safe in a heatwave.

Very high temperatures pose a risk to health and even life, so this is something to take seriously. The German weather forecaster DWD regularly issues weather warnings, for extreme weather including heatwaves.

As shown in the map below from the DWD, a ‘purple’ heatwave warning was issued on Wednesday August 3rd.

Screenshot: German Weather Service.

When temperatures get high, the government issues health advice on staying safe, which includes: drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, staying indoors if possible during the hottest part of the day (afternoon and early evening), staying in the shade, wearing sun cream and looking after the very young and the very old.

Homes

If you come from a country where air conditioning is standard you are in for a shock in Germany – Klimaanlage (air con) is rare in private homes, although you will find it in many shops, restaurants, cinemas and offices.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to keep your home cool, especially if you have shutters. It is advisable to get as much air ventilating through your apartment as possible, while also blocking the sun from coming in through south-facing windows.

Pets

If you think you’re hot and bothered, imagine being covered in fur when the temperature tops 40C.

Your pets need special care during a heatwave too, from an altered walk schedule to hot-weather trims and special cooling devices (which your cat will probably ignore).

Wildfires and drought

Given that drought and heatwaves have been common features of summer since 2018, wildfires have become more of a problem, especially in the east of the country near Berlin.

If you live in an area where wildfires are common, make sure you pay regular attention to the DWD’s wildfire threat index so you get the latest advice on whether you need to evacuate.

Cool places

Naturally, some parts of Germany get hotter than others, so if you’re not a fan of the heat, now might be the time to escape to a cool and shady place near you.

READ ALSO: 8 of the coolest places in Germany to visit on hot summer days

Cities get very hot during heatwaves (due to the heat sink effect) so it is a good idea to escape the city if you can to try and enjoy the sunny weather at a lake outside the city.

Larger German cities also have outdoor swimming pools that often have shady gardens that provide a good place to find relief from the heat.

Mobile relief

It might be a good idea to take a portable fan with you when you are moving around the city. Underground trains in cities such as Berlin and Munich are not equipped with air-con systems meaning that they become almost unbearably warm during the afternoon heat.

Taking a fan with you might just about help you get through the pain.

German phrases

And of course, you will want to get involved in the universal pastime for hot weather – complaining about how µ%*%ing hot it is. Check out some ways to talk about the heat in our list of strange German weather colloquialisms.

READ ALSO: Warnings of water shortages as heatwave reaches Germany

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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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