Bathing in fountains, new speed limits, and running naked down the freezer aisle: Here are all the ways people are trying to keep cool in Europe's heat wave

Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesTourists and Parisians bathe at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in the water of the Trocadero fountain to cool down on June 24, 2019.
  • Countries in Western Europe are grappling with an impending heat wave this week.
  • Temperatures are set to soar as high as 45 degrees Celsius, or 113 Fahrenheit, from Wednesday.
  • Residents and tourists are trying to cool off by bathing in public fountains and lying by river banks. One man in Germany stripped off in a supermarket and ran through the frozen aisle.
  • Animals are also trying to cool down by licking iced lollies and dousing themselves with water.
  • Three people in France have died as a result of the rising temperatures already.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Temperatures in Europe are soaring dramatically this week as forecasters predict highs of up to 45 degrees Celsius, or 113 Fahrenheit, this week.

France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, and Poland are gearing up for a massive heat wave from Wednesday, and it’s not clear when it will end.


Read more:
‘Hell is coming’: Western Europe braces for its hottest weather since a 2003 heat wave killed 15,000 people in France

The last comparable heat wave in Europe came in August 2003, when temperatures in southern France hit has high as 44.1 C (111.4 F).

France saw 15,000 more deaths than usual that summer. Across the continent, some 70,000 people died prematurely as a result of the heat wave, according to The Guardian.

As of Wednesday, three people in southern France have already died of shock after plunging into cold water to escape the heat.

People – and animals – across continental Europe are bathing in fountains, cancelling exams, and, in one case, ran naked through a supermarket frozen aisle to cool down. Scroll down to learn more.


France is already heating up, with southern France expecting temperatures as high as 45 C (113 F) on Friday. The government is encouraging people to cool off in the water several times a day.


French hospitals and ambulances are expecting a spike in calls. “Nobody is a superman when it comes to dealing with the extreme heat,” health minister Agnès Buzyn told reporters Monday, according to The Local.

TropicalTidbits.comThe temperature anomaly across Europe as on June 26, 2019.

“I’m worried about people who are downplaying this, who are continuing to exercise as usual or stay out in the sun,” Buzyn said, according to The Local.

“This affects all of us, nobody is a superman when it comes to dealing with the extreme heat we’re going to see on Thursday and Friday.”


French authorities delayed the national brevet exams for 15-year-olds, which were to take place on Thursday and Friday, saying it was “unthinkable” to make them sit the tests in the heat.

“It is unthinkable to have the students sit their exams in hot rooms for multiple hours,” French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Monday.

The French middle-schoolers will take the exam on July 1 and 2 instead, he said.

But the same exams, scheduled this week for students in the overseas French regions of French Guiana, Guadelupe, and Martinique, will go ahead as planned.


Many swimming pools in Paris are extending their opening hours, and Mayor Anne Hidalgo said she would open temporary pools in denser parts of the city.

Samuel Boivin / NurPhoto / GettyMany Parisians and tourists walk and bathe in the Trocadero fountain to refresh themselves on June 24, 2019


Read more:
Paris opened extra swimming pools, set up mist machines, and postponed thousands of school exams ahead of a killer heat wave looming over Europe


Parisian officials are also setting up mist machines across the city. This is a stock photo from several years ago.

Source: Business Insider


A 32-year-old man in Hemer, western Germany, stripped naked and ran through the frozen aisle in a supermarket, local media reported.

YelpThe frozen aisle at a Costco in Bedford Park, Illinois.

The unnamed man undressed completely in the freezer section shortly before noon on Saturday, and was stopped by a saleswoman shortly after, Germany’s ZDF public broadcaster reported, citing local police.

ZDF directly linked the incident to the heat wave.

Before getting stopped, the man took a beer can, drank from it, and then ran into a fruit department and grabbed a banana, ZDF added.

He refused to take an alcohol breath test, but was released on the same day pending further investigation into robbery and exhibitionism, ZDF reported.


Elsewhere in the country, some other people cooled off by more conventional means. These people are by the River Danube in Regensburg, southeast Germany, on Tuesday.


In Spain, where temperatures are expected to rise above 36 C (95 F), many people took advantage of public fountains.


The heat wave has claimed some victims already. Three people in Hérault, a department in southern France, died of cold shock after jumping into cold water to escape the heat.

Google MapsThe beach at Marseillan-Plage in southern France, where a 70-year-old man died after plunging into cold water on Monday.

Their deaths came after France issued heat wave warnings around the country.

On Monday afternoon, a 70-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after plunging into the water at Marseillan-Plage beach, the regional Midi Libre newspaper reported.

He suffered a thermal shock – a sudden fluctuation in his body temperature – when he left the water, and was pronounced dead at the scene, the Midi Libre reported.

On Tuesday morning, a 62-year-old woman in Frontignan-Plage and a 75-year-old man in Carnon also died of cardiac shock, France’s La Chaîne Info (LCI) TV channel reported.


Even animals are trying to escape the heat. This polar bear at a zoo in the western German city of Gelsenkirchen, named Nanook, jumped into the water on Tuesday.

Berlin expects temperatures as high as 38 C (100 F) by Thursday, while major cities like Frankfurt and Hamburg are gearing up to be in the mid-30s Celsius (about 95 F), the BBC reported.


This lemur in Rome’s Bioparco zoo sucked on a fruit icicle on Tuesday. Zookeepers there often give animals ice lollies with either fruit or meat inside on hot days, according to the AP.

Temperatures across Italy are set to soar, with those in Bolzano to hit a high of 40 C (104 F) on Thursday, according to Italy’s national meteorological agency.


This orangutan at Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna played with water on Tuesday.

Temperatures in Austria are set to hit an average of 33 C, with a high of 36 C in some parts of the country, this week, Switzerland’s Meteocentrale said.


Staff members there are working hard to provide heat relief to their orangutans, and the animals are “loving it,” zookeeper Fredi Maier told The Associated Press.

“The best way to do this [keep the orang-utans cool] is with water,” Maier told the AP.

“Here they get water buckets but also hoses with holes in them so the water sprays like a garden hose. And they’re loving it.”


Meanwhile, this orangutan at the same zoo hoped to get some relief from the sun by hiding under a blanket on Tuesday.


Vehicles could also be affected. Transport authorities in Germany’s eastern Saxony-Anhalt state imposed speed limits on several short stretches of the autobahn to prevent heat damage.

Patrik Stollarz/Getty ImagesCars drive on the Autobahn A3 near Ratingen, northwestern Germany.

Source: The Associated Press


Parts of eastern Germany have already seen little rain, and are at risk of drought and wildfires. Authorities have already deployed helicopters to battle forest fires.


Weather authorities in the Czech Republic warned that the heat might damage train tracks.

Thomas Lohnes / Stringer / Getty ImagesA woman reads by the train tracks in Germany.

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