Five things NOT to do during France’s Siberian freeze

There are certain ways we should adapt our behaviour to best deal with the Siberian freeze sweeping across France from Russia this week. Here are five tips...and they might not be what you'd expect.

Five things NOT to do during France's Siberian freeze
Photo: AFP
With the mercury taking a steep drop in France, it's only natural to reach for your thickest jumper and set up camp in the vicinity of a radiator. 
But there are better ways to deal with the cold. 
Here's what you should do:
Don't pump up the radiators (too much)
We know, we know…it's almost impossible not to put the heating on as high as possible as soon as you walk through the door after a freezing commute. 
But it's important to try. 
Apparently, during freezing temperatures, intensively using electrical appliances leads to a higher risk of power failure. 
Health authorities have also warned the public about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning due to defective heating. 
So instead of running the risk, it's much better to put on another layer of clothing and make sure the shutters are tightly closed to keep out the cold. 
Photo: budabar/Depositphotos
Avoid intense physical activity
While it might seem logical that intense exercise is a good way of staying warm during the cold weather, it's actually best to avoid putting your body under too much strain during freezing temperatures. 
That's because the body has to work extra hard to stay warm and this is especially true of the heart.
And as a result intense physical activity can aggravate cardiovascular problems, health authorities have warned. 
Instead they recommend trying a gentle exercise that focuses on constant movement like walking, cross-country skiing or a slow jog. 
And it's especially important to keep an eye on the exercise children are doing, especially for those that suffer from asthma, with cold weather sometimes triggering an attack.
Don't just wear a big jumper
Don't think thick jumpers, think layering. When it comes to staying warm, it's the numbers that count.
The air in between each layer of clothing works as an insulator to conserve the heat so it's actually more effective to layer several t-shirts than to wear your trusty thick knit.
That is as long as they're made of the right materials which means warm, thin and not too tight in order to avoid cutting off blood supply. 
“Above all, you have to wear a windbreaker,” explorer and doctor Jean-Louis Etienne told France Info

It's also important to remember to make sure your hands, feet, head and neck, which quickly lose heat, are covered when you're outside.
Don't forget about the most vulnerable 
Health authorities have recommended limiting the amount of outdoor time for young infants whose bodies' aren't used to adapting to extreme temperatures.  
Newborns can be taken out during the warmest hours of the day but parents are advised to check their temperatures when returning. 
Likewise, older people should, who are more vulnerable to cold weather, should be checked up on. 
Photo: AFP
Don't drink too much alcohol
Everyone knows about the soothing benefits a drink can have after pounding the pavements in icy temperatures. 
But in fact, the warming effect of alcoholic drinks is only an illusion and really the feeling of heat comes from the way the alcohol dilates blood vessels. 
This sensation hides a lowering body temperature which can pose health risks. To avoid hypothermia, give up drinking (at least to excess) for the next few days.
BUT do eat fatty foods
There are lots of downsides to the cold weather but the good news is that this is your green card to fill up on your favourite fatty foods, expert Jean-Louis Etienne told France Info
And if you're yet to acquaint yourself with the hearty goodness that is tartiflette, here's everything you need to know.

'It curdles!' and other French expressions to talk about the coldPhoto: AFP


Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.