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Europe Hit by Summer Heat Wave

ALEX CHADWICK, Host:

This is DAY TO DAY, I'm Alex Chadwick.

NOAH ADAMS, Host:

And I'm Noah Adams. Finally, a modicum of good news today for some sweltering parts of the country. A cold front is moving across the upper Midwest bringing rain, and more important, slightly cooler temperatures. It was 95 in Chicago yesterday, today it will be in the 80s. The cold front is moving east, it will bring relief there too, but not until after some violent thunderstorms. And triple digits will continue to smother most of the southern half of the country today.

CHADWICK: A heat wave has also been blasting Europe this month. Here's French TV ticking off that country's hot spots.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE SPOKEN)

CHADWICK: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us from Paris, Eleanor, how hot is it?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Well today it's about, in Paris, 37 degrees, which is 99.

CHADWICK: Ninety-nine at Fahrenheit. That would be unseasonably warm for a blissful summer in Paris?

BEARDSLEY: It is. Usually it's in the mid-80s or let's say, low 90s, but not, not this high.

CHADWICK: You know three years ago, we recall reports of up to 15,000 people dying, just in France, in a big heat wave that swept across the country then, and deaths elsewhere as well. They must be comparing this to that experience. Is it the same?

BEARDSLEY: And not only the official things are in place, but there's, there's a public awareness that maybe wasn't there before. As soon as, you know, the temperature's up in the 30s, people start noticing, especially the old people around them. There's a café I go to, where there's an old lady who comes in every day for her meals. She has Alzheimer's. And I was speaking with the owner of the café, and he says, we take care of her. We make her take off her coat, we make her drink water. If we don't see her, somebody goes to her house and checks on her. So, just people in their daily lives, are much more aware of the older, or the frail people around them, walking around in the heat.

CHADWICK: So, I understand that air conditioning is not that popular in Paris, but maybe since 2003, a lot more people have gone out and at least bought window air conditioners.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah you do see more air conditioners than before. The thing is, it's just, it's never hot long enough really to have air conditioning, and it's kind of not in, in the culture. You never find these freezing cold places like you have in the U.S., where you have to put a sweater on when you go grocery shopping. But people have been stocking up on window units, and, and also fans. They ran out of fans in 2003, and since then people have, have bought a lot of fans. And actually, the power of the fan is underestimated. I can tell you, I've got a fan on right now, and they, that can actually cool the room down quite considerably.

CHADWICK: You have a baby, a new baby.

BEARDSLEY: Exactly, and I'm trying to keep him in one room that's pretty much, not dark, but very dim, with the fan going, and I give him like three or four baths a day. And he's fine, but I wouldn't take him on the Paris Metro today.

CHADWICK: Eleanor Beardsley in Paris, stay well.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
Alex Chadwick
For more than 30 years, Alex Chadwick has been bringing the world to NPR listeners as an NPR News producer, program host and currently senior correspondent. He's reported from every continent except Antarctica.