The French government created Plan Canicule (Heat Wave Protection), Canicule means heat wave in French, so that those most vulnerable will be protected.
Plan Canicule is a response to the heat wave of 2003 that killed an estimated 15,000 people in France. The heat wave took many by surprise including health and government officials.
Plan Canicule has three levels:
Veille Saisonnière: Seasonal Vigilance – Runs from June 1st to August 31st (can be extended if need be). Météo-France (French national meteorological service) and the Institut de veille sanitaire (Sanitary Surveillance Institute) monitor the weather looking for any warning signs. Also includes the opening of toll free number - 0 800 06 66 66.
Mise en Garde et Actions (MIGA): Warnings and Actions – Set in motion at the departmental level by the préfet (state representative) if there is a local alert by Météo-France or Institut de veille sanitaire. Measures include outreach to those at risk i.e. telephoning or home visits.
Mobilisation Maximale: Maximum Mobilization – Lunched by the prime minister if the health risks increase because of a lack of basic necessities or if hospitals and other health institutions become saturated.
Plan Canicule has five ‘piliers’ - supports:
Protection of those at risk in hospitals, retirement homes etc
Locating those at risk
Warning bulletins by Météo-France or Institut de veille sanitaire
Solidarity with those in jeopardy, examples volunteer home visits and opening up of local buildings with air conditioners
Inform the general public of dangers and suggest preventive measures
Recommendations in a heat wave are simple and straight forward:
Try not to go out during the hottest part of the day - 11 am to 9pm
Try to keep your home or apartment as cool as possible
This last recommendation isn’t the easiest to do if you’re in France and your French is limited. One suggestion is to look at the Health Minister’s web site on the Alertes sanitaires (health warnings) page. It is in fairly simple French. For anything related to a heat wave look for ‘canicule’.