Prague citizens struggle to cope with extreme temperatures

Photo: CTK

Many parts of Europe have been hit by a heat wave and the Czech Republic is no exception, with record temperatures recorded in different parts of the country this week. How are people coping with the extreme heat? Praguers who can get away from their jobs are fleeing to the countryside. But tourists and those who must work in the scorching city are not so lucky.

Photo: CTK
On Wednesday we broke a 141-year-old record of the day with 34.3 Celsius recorded in the centre of Prague. Nevertheless, the city centre remains full of people and it seems to be business as usual. As expected, beer and water sales are up and the café and pubs are quickly filling up. Just before noon, I spoke with some locals on how they deal with the heat.

"I try to go to a park and walk under the trees; it's very hot, so I try to stay in the shade."

"It is very, very, very hot at the moment, and it is coming near to the middle of the day. I just keep drinking lots water and I have a map with which to fan myself with, and I walk slowly"

Although the pubs and garden terraces may see a boost in business due to this heat, other businesses are not faring so well. Services which require that people stay outside in the sun do better in cooler weather because people are more likely to use them. A carriage driver from the Old Town square explains why he sees less business and how his horses are able to stand the heat.

"We have less business because it is so hot and the tourists are by the water. In the meantime we drink as much as we can. The horses too, are regularly provided with water and when we have time we hose them down."

Most people are able to duck into a pub or a café at some point during the day. However, Prague city police must perform their duty, for nine hours a day, patrolling the smouldering streets. Head of administration for Prague 1 police, Miroslav Stejskal explains some technicalities, which make their jobs that much harder.

Photo: CTK
"The police can't pick their own uniforms. They can't be casual and they must wear the full uniform, including hats. Their belts alone weigh about five kilos. Even worse for them is moving around in their uniforms in this heat."

Clerks in some stores are not doing any better than those working outside, at a local beer shop in Prague; the clerk explains why he has no air conditioning.

"Air conditioning in this season is sold out. This is an old building and we can't put a hole into the wall for the air conditioner. The small ones are sold out, so now we are waiting for one."

The biggest problem during heat waves is dehydration, which can result in fainting, light-headedness, and collapse. The Prague city police are aware and prepared for the consequences of the heat for those who are not able to handle it. Miroslav Stejskal explains how the police and their vehicles are equipped to deal with the most pressing health problems.

Photo: CTK
"Of course, during these extreme weather conditions we supply all people, whether they are foreign tourists or citizens of the city, with emergency services. Our vehicles are outfitted with the necessary tools for first aid. We also have a defibrillator, so we can deal with heart attacks quickly. The biggest problem we have right now is getting people to the hospital because of the traffic jams."

The heat wave is expected to last throughout the weekend. For those staying in town for the weekend, remember to drink lots of fluid, try to stay out of the sun and try to get near some water.