As France set to hit 34C, doctors offer tips on wearing masks in hot weather

As France set to hit 34C, doctors offer tips on wearing masks in hot weather
Masks are not compulsory on the street, but are on public transport and in many shops, businesses and tourist attractions. Photo: AFP
Temperatures across Europe are soaring this week, with parts of France forecast to reach 34C on Wednesday - which could make wearing a mask quite sweaty and uncomfortable.

Masks are compulsory for many activities in France including riding on public transport and entering most shops, public buildings and tourist sites.

Failure to wear a mask on public transport can earn you a €135 fine and in Paris police have been out on the Metro – never the most comfortable place in hot weather anyway – to ensure the rules are being adhered to.

Most people will have already noticed that wearing a mask when it's hot can be sweaty, uncomfortable and generally gross, but in extreme cases it can also lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

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Researchers at the Canadian Robert-Sauvé institute for health and safety at work said: “Wearing a protective mask is accompanied by an increase in the temperature of the covered skin and also of the air between the mask and the skin.

“Because it is well innervated and vascularised, the face is more sensitive to heat than other parts of the body.”

So how can you stick to health guidance on masks and avoid overheating?

Some of the tips offered include

  • Breathing through your nose not your mouth, as this generates less heat and humidity
  • Avoiding wearing a mask during intense physical exercise such as running
  • Keep yourself as cool as possible by using a cold object such as a towel or a cold drink can on your face and neck
  • Make sure you are well hydrated

If masks get wet they should be thrown away or, in the case of the fabric masks, changed and washed, says the French Health Ministry.

In France wearing a mask is generally not mandatory on the street, but masks should be used in situations where it is impossible to observe physical distancing rules, such as at demonstrations.

Many shops and businesses have masks mandatory for their customers and tourist attractions such as the Louvre and Eiffel Tower have also included mandatory masks on their list of hygiene rules as they reopen.

French weather forecaster Météo France predicts that Paris and southern France will see temperatures of up to 34C on Wednesday and Thursday, with most of the country predicted to be above 30C.

The hot spell is forecast to break on Friday with widespread thunder storms.

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