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How to keep cool during France's heatwave (especially at work)

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How to keep cool during France's heatwave (especially at work)
Photo: AFP
15:47 CEST+02:00
With 16 departments in France, including Paris on orange alert for the current heatwave, here's how to keep cool when the mercury soars. And don't forget your pets!
French authorities take heatwaves extremely seriously, and it's little wonder. Back in August 2003, a heatwave killed 15,000 mostly elderly people across the country.
 
And with large swathes of France including the Paris area on orange alert for heatwaves this week, it's crucial to stay cool. 
 
First of all what about those suffering at work?

And what about at work?

France's famous biblical-length labour code “code de travail” does not mention a specific temperature that if the mercury goes above then everyone has to be sent home.

The labour code does say though that if anyone downs tools because they fear their health is in danger then they can't be punished by employers.

But obviously all employers are legally obliged to look after their staff's well-being, that means providing fans if necessary and undertake other measures to ensure the working environment is cool enough. Needless to say they need to ensure there is a supply of cold water.

Workers also have the right to ask if their hours can be altered and have increased breaks, so don't be afraid to approach your boss.

And what about wearing shorts and flips?

There is nothing in the labour code to say workers can't wear shorts to work if they desire. Although different companies and sectors will obviously have different rules. Worth trying though.

Here's how to stay cool in general.
 
Drink water
 
It might sound obvious, but be sure to drink plenty of water - even when you're not thirsty. It's recommended that you drink at least somewhere between 1.5 and 2 litres per day. 
 
And to avoid dehydration stay off the alcohol, yes that even includes Rosé wine with ice in it. Eat plenty of fresh fruit.
 
Stay inside
 
Try and avoid going outside between the hours of 11am and 9pm. If you have to, then be sure to wear light clothes, preferably cotton as it lets your skin breathe. It's not a bad idea to take a parasol (see below).
 
READ ALSO:  
 

(Photo: AFP)
 
Shut the blinds
 
On the home front, keep the blinds closed throughout the hottest hours of the day. When the temperature outside drops below that of your home, open the windows and doors and let the place aerate. 
 
Douse yourself in water
 
There are plenty of ways to keep hydrated besides just drinking water and taking showers and baths. Filling a bucket with water for your feet or placing a wet or damp towel on your head and shoulders can make a big difference. Even a little spray with water can keep you feeling fresh. 
 
(Photo: emanuela franchini/Flickr)
 
Get rid of the extra heat
 
If you're at home, turn off the big lights, only use your laptop if you have to, and eat fresh food rather than using the oven. 
 
Don't play sports
 
Skip your typical afternoon run and say no to your handball teammates - it's best not to over-exert yourself at all. Even going outside to do the gardening is unadvised.
 
Be aware of the risks
 
You might be in peak physical form, but not everyone else is. Remember that children under the age of four and the elderly are the most at risk when the heat strikes. 
 
France set to bake under 'intense' heatwave
(Parisians in the water. Photo: AFP)
 
Stay in the coolest parts of the house
 
Be sure to find the coolest part of the house and make sure that's the area you stay. If your place has no air conditioning nor an electric fan, then you're advised to head somewhere that is like a cinema or a shopping centre.
 
Recognize symptoms of heat-related illnesses
 
If you or someone close to you is complaining of cramps, headaches, dizziness, or has a fever of over 38C, this is a clear sign they're suffering from the heat. Keep the person cool and call emergency services for help.  
 
Be careful what you drink
 
Tea, coffee, and alcohol all act as diuretics, meaning it will leave you dehydrated. Stick to water. And on the plus side, this means you won't have to turn the kettle on either!
 
Don't forget your furry friends
 
Your pets also suffer from intense heat, so make sure you think of them too. Be sure to keep an eye on them, give them plenty of water, and the occasional cool bath. 

An original version of this article was published in June 2016.
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