Red Cross volunteers are working across Europe to help keep the public safe as temperatures threaten to top 48C in some countries.
Spain and Portugal could face their hottest day in history and record Europe’s highest temperature since 1977 according to weather forecasts. The rest of southern and central Europe is also preparing for extreme heat this weekend.
Dr Davron Mukhamadiev, Europe Region health coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “This summer’s heatwave has already taken its toll on communities across the continent as we have seen with the devastation caused by the recent wildfires in Greece. If the temperatures climb even higher this will be dangerous, especially for vulnerable people. If you have older relatives or neighbours, giving them a call or visiting could save a life.”
Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are going door-to-door to check in on those who might be struggling to cope with the heat. In the Netherlands, recent Red Cross research revealed that just 18 per cent of people check on elderly relatives in a heatwave. Hundreds of volunteers are now visiting at-risk homes and providing soup and fruit to help people stay hydrated.
Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said: “Climate impacts are becoming steadily more visible and the trend in potentially lethal heatwaves across the northern hemisphere is among the most easily attributed to human-made climate change.
“The link to wildfires is more complex, with other factors coming into play. But the current heat emergency in Europe – with quite extraordinary temperatures approaching 50C – so soon after the tragedy in Greece highlights that climate is no longer a risk for the future,” he added.
In Portugal, volunteers are keeping watch in areas at risk of wildfires and are urging the public to do the same. Last year, ferocious fires in central Portugal claimed 66 lives and destroyed hundreds of homes.
National Societies across Europe are running public awareness and information campaigns, including for holiday makers. The Spanish Red Cross is providing beach safety and visiting homeless people and vulnerable communities, as is the Italian Red Cross. German Red Cross water safety volunteers are also stationed on the coast and at lakes in Germany, providing safety advice and first aid.