As the blistering heat pushes temperatures in Belgium to new highs, officials are preparing to face the first-ever red heatwave alert issued for most of the country, cutting some workers shift early and prompting residents to remain hydrated as an all-time heat record could be broken on Wednesday.
Following in the footsteps of the city of Bruges, officials in Brussels have decided to suspend horse-drawn carriages and keep the animals in the stable, where they will be protected from the heat with regular showers and even fans.
Outdoor workers in the capital will be allowed to clock out early from Wednesday through Friday in order to spare them from the scorching afternoon temperatures.
The code red alert, which was issued for the first time on Wednesday by the IRM meteorological institute, aims to put authorities on high alert and to trigger the adoption of preventative and communication measures aimed at limiting risks during the heatwave episode.
Road workers, public cleaning agents or parking attendants will thus be able to wrap up their shifts from 13:00.
Other measures include regulating navigation in the Brussels canal, equipping rail workers for the sweltering heat and issuing special guidelines for residents in the city, including avoiding outside activities as the heat puts the air quality levels under strain.
An unofficial initiative will offer some respite from the heat during the first weekend of August, as an event planned on Facebook will see city dwellers blow some off steam in a massive water fight organised in Place de Brouckère.
Thousands of Facebook users have responded to the event, in which the organisers will distribute water guns and balloons in an attempt to break the record for the "biggest water fight of Belgium," despite a police warning that the event should have been registered with authorities.
The code red alert for the heatwave is expected to be lifted on Saturday at around midnight.
The Brussels Times