Belgium activates ozone and heat plan due to extreme temperatures

Belgium activates ozone and heat plan due to extreme temperatures
Man sunbathing in Parc Royal. Credit: Belga

Due to the warm weather expected for the rest of the week, the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) activated the warning phase of its ozone and heat plan today after the plan's temperature indicator had been exceeded, the institute announced in a press release.

The warning phase of the ozone and heat plan is announced when the so-called "cumulative temperature" is higher than or equal to 17°C. This is calculated by adding up the predicted degrees of the maximum temperature over 25°C in the measuring station in Uccle over the next five days.

This week, the threshold temperature of 17°C will be exceeded, and the combination of warm weather, air pollution and the sun also cause an increase in ozone concentrations in the air. The RMI is expecting the highest temperatures on Saturday, with maximum temperatures reaching over 30°C in many places.

"Our general advice is to drink enough water and to keep yourself and your home cool. But we also explicitly ask you to take care of others," Lien Thoelen, spokesperson for the Care and Health Agency told Belga News Agency.

"Keep an eye on children, visit elderly people or people who are on their own," she added. "Do they drink enough? Is their clothing adapted to the heat? Do they have a cool place to rest?"

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The Agency also pay extra attention to associations, local authorities and organisations that work with vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, children and the sick. "We ask them to activate their internal heat action plan, with measures such as paying extra attention, adapted activities and heat protection measures."

However, the RMI does not expect the ozone increase to cause the threshold value (180 micrograms per cubic metre) for ozone concentrations to be exceeded.

The ozone and heat plan was created in response to the European heat wave in 2003, when several countries saw a sharp increase in morbidity (poor health) and mortality (death) among vulnerable groups in society.

The plan is intended to enable a rapid response to high temperatures and ozone concentrations and to take measures for the high-risk groups in society.


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