Warnings in place as country records highest-ever temperature
The temperature reached 39.9° on Wednesday in Limburg, and forecasters expect it to creep even higher on Thursday
Kleine-Brogel in Limburg was the hottest place in the country, reaching 39.9°C shortly after 16.00 – the highest temperature recorded in Belgium since measurements began in 1833. Wednesday was also the warmest night of the year so far, with temperatures in Brussels up to 23.7°. The warmest night ever recorded was on 4 July 2015, when the temperature was 24.4°. The forecast is for Thursday night to see temperatures of 26° in the main cities.
Thursday is set to be the hottest day of the year, with high chances that a new record temperature of 40°C could be set. The Royal Meteorological Institute has extended its red alert weather warning from Thursday night until Sunday. Storms and heavy rain are forecast at the weekend.
With such extreme temperatures, people are advised to take a number of measures to stay cool and avoid illness: drink a lot, maintain salinity, rest as much as possible, stay in a cooled room, use damp cloths in the event of dehydration and avoid direct sunlight. People should also keep an eye on elderly relatives and neighbours. During a heatwave in June 2017, 2,080 deaths were recorded, 235 more than average for the time of year. More than half of those were people over the age of 85, who are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels have announced they will offer free entrance for over-65s on Thursday and Friday, allowing them to spend time in the air-conditioned buildings and keep cool. Many residents in Flanders have put out notices for postal delivery workers inviting them in for a drink of water or to fill up a water bottle during their round.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists have called for the transport of animals to be banned on hot days, as they released video footage from a slaughterhouse in Zele, East Flanders, showing a number of pigs who had died from heat exposure while being transported in a lorry.
Photo: Belga/Dirk Waem