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German businesses should consider ‘allowing staff siestas and cold footbaths’ as temperatures hit 38C

Businesses in Germany should consider allowing staff to take midday siestas, according to a public health chief, as temperatures in the country soar.

Johannes Niessen, the head of the country’s public health officers association, also suggested staff could use cold foot baths under their desks to keep cool.

He made the comments to German media, as temperatures hit 38.8C (101.84F) in the south of the country.

German health minister Karl Lauterbach also said a siesta – an afternoon break usually taken in Spain and other southern European countries to allow workers to avoid the heat of the day – was “certainly no bad proposal”.

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Mr Niessen, issuing advice to deal with the hot weather in Germany, which usually experiences a temperate climate, said: “Get up early, work productively in the morning, and take a siesta at midday.

“People are not as efficient in strong heat as they are otherwise. Moreover, bad sleep in the absence of cooling in the night leads to concentration problems.

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Map shows heatwave across Europe this week

He also called for “sufficient fans and lighter clothing, even if the attire rules for an office don’t allow it”.

“A cold foot bath under the desk would be another option to stay cool while working from home,” he added.

The World Meteorological Organisation warned on Monday that the heatwave in Southern Europe, which experts say is being driven by a combination of climate change and an El Niño weather pattern, is set to intensify this week.

Read more:
How Europe’s heatwave is impacting holiday destinations
No hot summer temperatures in until mid-August, says Met Office

While Germany has escaped the kind of temperatures that hit Southern Europe this week, it has sweltered in the mid-30s Celsius, with Bavaria seeing the country’s record high so far at 38.8C.

The UN weather agency has warned that temperatures in Europe could even break the 48.8C (119.84F) record set in Sicily two years ago.

In Greece, where a second heatwave is expected to hit on Thursday, three large wildfires burned outside Athens for a second day.

Residents watch as a wildfire burns on a hill in Pournari village near Athens, on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. In Greece, where a second heatwave is expected to hit Thursday, three large wildfires burned outside Athens for a second day. Thousands of people evacuated from coastal areas south of the capital returned to their homes Tuesday when a fire finally receded after they spent the night on beaches, hotels and public facilities. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Image:
Residents watch as a wildfire burns on a hill in Pournari village near Athens. Pic: AP

Local media dubbed the worst-affected areas a “fiery hell” due to wildfires.

One headline read: “Heatwave Kleon: Fiery hell with the mercury at 44 degrees – The difficult days”.

In Italy, health officials warned of extreme temperatures in 20 cities, rising to 23 on Wednesday, from Bolzano in the north to Palermo in the south.

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Wildfires burn in Greece

Spain is also dealing with a prolonged drought that has increased concerns about the risk of wildfires.

Some 400 firefighters assisted by nine water-dumping aircraft laboured to extinguish a wildfire which burned for a fourth consecutive day on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands.

In Switzerland, around 150 firefighters, police, soldiers and other emergency teams backed by helicopters battled a wildfire on a mountainside in the southwestern Wallis region.

Residents of four villages and hamlets in the area were evacuated due to the fire.


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