A serious heat wave continues to ravage Europe, hitting near-record temperatures in some parts along the Mediterranean coast as officials issue safety warnings.
“Repeated high nighttime temperatures are particularly dangerous for human health because the body is unable to recover from sustained heat,” John Nairn, senior extreme heat adviser for the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told reporters in Geneva.
“This leads to increased cases of heart attacks and death – that’s not the only diseases that we see, but they’re the notable ones,” Nairn added.
The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said 2021 and 2022 had seen the hottest summers on record, but experts warned that temperatures on Wednesday could hit or even breeze past that record, the Washington Post reported.
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The heat wave coincides with the peak summer tourist season, with many changing their plans to avoid dangerous conditions. Many in Rome took to splashing in the fountains and seeking out giant fans set up outside the Colosseum.
The Official Airline Guide has analyzed schedules and determined around 111,400 flights could depart from Western Europe to the U.S., suggesting a comparable number will depart the other way – a record-breaking number of transatlantic flights between the continents, according to Traveling Lifestyle.
One traveler from Norway told Reuters that she felt pain in her head while her legs and fingers swelled up due to the extreme heat, forcing her and her husband to end their trip early.
Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine and practicing internist at NYU Langone Medical Center and Fox News contributor, told Fox News Digital that travelers must be “ultra conscious” and aware of the conditions in Europe as they look to visit the continent.
“Number one is hydration, especially since you get dehydrated on planes: If facing heat waves, you should always have a bottle of water in your hand,” Siegel said. “Travelers should be ultra conscious of hydration,” and whether any medication they are taking can make them “sun sensitive.”
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“Review your medications with your doctor to see if they make you more sun sensitive or susceptible to heat, like diuretics,” he advised. “The very young and the very old are more susceptible to effects of the heat – they don’t have the insulation against it, so keep them out of the heat as much as possible.”
“Watch out for humidity as well as heat because it prevents you from sweating as much and cooling yourself down,” Siegel further advised. “Your body sweat is like a sprinkler system trying to cool you down. Replace electrolytes not just water.”
“All things being equal\, now is the time to go to an ocean beach like Santorini rather than the Acropolis right now,” he suggested.
Officials expect temperatures to peak on Wednesday, but over the weekend temperatures hit near 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and Sicily recorded 115 degrees – just shy of the 2021 record of just under 120 degrees.
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Rome alone set a new record for July and recorded 109 degrees in the metro area as the city’s major airport recorded just shy of its record 105 degrees.
Nearly all Italian cities have issued a red alert warning, meaning the heat poses a threat to everybody – not just vulnerable groups, according to the BBC.
Spain, Greece and parts of the Balkans – including popular tourist spots like Croatia and Serbia – have similarly issued red alerts, warning of a high risk to health, while Switzerland and Greece face ongoing wildfires that some have linked to the intense heat.
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The World Meteorological Organization reported that 60,000 people died from extreme heat in summer 2022 despite warnings and health action plans.
“Heat is a rapidly growing health risk due to increased or rapid urbanization, the increasing extreme temperatures and an aging population,” Nairn claimed, adding that the current weather patterns are “not normal” and will continue to have “quite serious impacts on human health and livelihoods.”
Reuters contributed to this report.