Excessive and sustained heat has consequences for people’s health, particularly high-risk groups such as people with chronic conditions or functional diversity. In an effort to reduce the impact of high temperatures and heatwaves, Barcelona City Council is taking specific steps to protect these groups. This involves adapting forty facilities to act as climate refuges and setting up comfort areas in parks and gardens, achieving cooler temperatures with shade, swimming pools and water games.
There have been four heatwaves in the last five years, with global warming and the climate emergency making them increasingly common in the city. Barcelona City Council takes steps every year to counter the effects of excessive heat and this year’s measures have been stepped up due to the health emergency generated by Covid-19.
Emergency plan for heatwaves
Heatwaves occur when temperatures stay above 33.6 degrees centigrade for three days running. The emergency plan for heatwaves has been applied under these circumstances since 2007 and is in place as a preventive measure from 1 June to 15 September. Besides activating measures in public facilities and spaces, a specific operation is conducted to monitor vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with chronic conditions. This operation is directed by the Barcelona Public Health Agency and the Barcelona Social Emergency and Urgent Care Centre when there is a heatwave alert. Meals are delivered to people at home, air-conditioning units are distributed, and vulnerable people are transferred to air-conditioned facilities. Telecare and home support services also adopt specific measures to attend to their users and the Red Cross collaborates with the information campaign and the distribution of caps and aluminium water bottles.
Along with the cooler shaded areas in parks and gardens, forty municipal facilities are turned into climate refuges to help people cope with the high temperatures. These spaces are being prepared with full safety, hygiene and disinfection measures this summer:
- 12 libraries
- 10 parks and gardens
- 2 environmental education facilities
- 10 museums
- 8 sports centres
The swimming pool in the Parc de la Creuta del Coll is re-opening this year and has been remodelled to solve water filtration issues. Work has also started on water games for children in the Canyelles neighbourhood and they will be in use from 31 July.