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Europe heatwave: Is it safe to travel to Italy, Spain, Greece and Croatia?

Travelers from the UK, USA and other parts of the world can be nervous about planned trips to the Mediterranean.

As the busiest summer break since 2019 kicks off, travelers to Southern Europe are likely to experience extreme heat. An area of ​​high pressure appears to have stabilized over the Mediterranean with little sign of abating.

The deadly heatwave “Cerberus” (named by Italian meteorologists) is covering the south of France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey, as well as smaller countries in Mediterranean region.

While the heat in Western Europe is likely to ease slightly over the next few days, the Eastern Mediterranean is likely to be even hotter.

With weather forecasters predicting the heatwave could last up to two weeks, concerns about the risks to health are growing. EQUAL independence reported this week, 61,000 Europeans are thought to have died from extreme heat last summer.

For travelers considering their options, here are the key questions and answers.

Where are the hottest spots?

Temperatures around the Mediterranean are usually 8–13C higher than normal – at this time of year it’s very hot by UK standards.

On Wednesday afternoon, temperatures in Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol peaked at 43C – above 110F.

The Met Office forecast for southern Spain predicts clear skies from Saturday 16 to Wednesday 26 July.

Nine Italian cities, including Florence, Bologna and Rome, are on red alert because of extreme weather. One forecast for the islands of Sicily and Sardinia put temperatures up to 48C (118F).

The Cyprus Meteorological Department said: “The common forecast maximum temperature is about 40 degrees Celsius in the high mountains and about 32 degrees Celsius in the highest mountains.

“During Friday and Saturday, temperatures are expected to increase further.”

Away from the Mediterranean, landlocked countries Hungary and Serbia have issued severe heat warnings.

What are the health risks – and how can they be minimized?

Old and young travelers, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (especially cardiovascular and respiratory) are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat.

NHS Scotland Fit For Travel website warns: “Exposure to high temperatures can lead to loss of fluids and salts.

“When the body is overheated, blood is directed away from the center of the body by relaxing the blood vessels, which causes perspiration and cooling.

“Rapid dehydration can happen in hot, dry conditions. Humidity can reduce the rate at which sweat evaporates, making it difficult to regulate body temperature.”

More serious disorders include:

  • heat exhaustion
  • Sun stroke
  • low sodium in the blood (hyponatremia) caused by exertion or excessive exercise.

“Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are related conditions that can lead to serious consequences if not treated promptly. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include a body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius, rapid breathing and pulse, dizziness, headache, and confusion.

“Sudden fainting due to heat can happen when tourists have not acclimatized. Fainting occurs when blood vessels dilate to increase circulation and release heat from the skin. This also has the effect of lowering blood pressure and reducing blood supply to the brain. Consciousness will quickly return after the person lies upright.

How can I reduce the risk?

Obvious steps include avoiding going out during the hottest part of the day (usually 11am to 3pm); wear light, loose clothing and a hat; and drink plenty of water (maybe with hydrated salts). Dark urine is a definite sign you need to increase your fluid intake.

The NHS said: “Limit exertion until you have acclimatised, most travelers will acclimate to higher temperatures in about 10 days.

“Clothing should be light and airy – avoid dark or tight clothing.

“A portable personal fan can prove invaluable when heat cannot be released.”

Age UK offers advice specifically for older adultsincludes a potentially disappointing recommendation: “Avoid alcohol and keep eating even if you don’t feel too hungry.”

If someone in my group is at risk, can I cancel my trip and get a full refund?

Not sure. If you have booked a package holiday you should talk to the tour operator in case they can offer any flexibility, but there is no legal obligation on them to allow you to transfer. change.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, you can transfer a suitable package holiday to someone else for a nominal fee of perhaps £50 per person.

If you have a travel insurance policy in which you have declared a pre-existing medical condition, you may have grounds for a claim.

Will extreme heat affect transportation?

Entirely possible. In the UK last July, when the country experienced its hottest heatwave on record, rail services were slashed sharply and many cancellations made – over concerns about rail buckling. steel.

While Mediterranean countries are bracing for significantly higher temperatures, if they experience unprecedented heat, some departures could be disrupted.

Transportation providers may also cancel some services to protect their employees.

What about aviation?

Planes can take off in all conditions, except the highest temperatures – the same way they usually do from airports in the Gulf and Southwest US. But high air temperatures require higher take-off speeds, which can affect the maximum weight the plane can carry.

Extreme heat can also increase the risk of thunderstorms in the Mediterranean region, which will certainly affect the aviation industry as pilots avoid them.

Scientists say that as the earth warms, the frequency of air turbulence – in which planes crash, sometimes to the point of injury – will increase.

Can you recommend an easy and fun way out?

At least until Wednesday, July 19, northerly winds will keep Iceland below 15C. Even as temperatures rose thereafter, the highest temperature ever recorded in Iceland was 30C in the summer of 1939.

The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have many flights to Reykjavik.


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