Country on red alert as unprecedented heat wave rolls in

It’s going to be stultifying – some parts of the country are expecting temperatures of over 45ºC, and meteorologists warn there could even be areas that reach 50ºC.

Everything is pointing to the next few days registering the highest temperatures Portugal has even known, bizarrely coming less than a week after tourism bosses were bemoaning the fact that May and June had been “markedly colder” than they consider good for business

The combination of North African heat, wind over 30 km/h and humidity under 30% is due to create what’s known in weatherspeak as “an explosive mixture for fires”.

Thus aside from people being advised to take care of themselves through the next few days, the underlying message also is “take care of your immediate environment”.

Absolutely no activities that could start a fire are to be entertained. These include working outside with power tools and picnic-type barbecues.

Says the popular press, there is a policy of “zero tolerance” on risky outdoor activities – which most probably means if you are caught enjoying a barbecue out in the country, you will probably get a stiff fine.

Firefighters, the army and firefighting planes and helicopters are all primed and ready to respond.

This is the moment the government has been working to contain all year, we just have to pray that everything goes according to the massive amount of planning in place.

Old people’s homes are reported to be upping their vigilance of inmates who require constant hydration in high temperatures; creches are keeping children in the shade and attached to their hats; health centres too are described as ‘braced’ for people arriving with heat-related problems.

Bottom line advice: Keep hydrated (and not with extra beers or sugary soft drinks: water, water and more water is what your body needs in these temperatures). Eat high water-content foods like fruit and salad. Try and stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm (advice includes “staying at home and closing windows and blinds”). Wear loose clothing, sunglasses, hats and SUNBLOCK.

So far the message is that the worst of the hot weather will be over by Sunday.

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