Sweden issues health warnings over Midsummer weekend heatwave

Sweden's state weather forecaster SMHI has issued a yellow warning for the high temperatures across large parts of Sweden this Midsummer weekend, as people's health could be seriously affected.

Sweden issues health warnings over Midsummer weekend heatwave
People sunbathing at Mälarhöjdsbadet. SMHI has warned of "very high temperatures" in the next few days. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist / TT

People in Sweden have been warned to keep cool over the Midsummer weekend, as soaring temperatures mean the heat will affect some people’s health.

“In general, we in Sweden have a bad idea of ​​how dangerous the heat can be. It can be dangerous for everyone, not just for risk groups”,  Elin Andersson, researcher in environmental health at the Swedish Public Health Agency, told newswire TT.

She advised that certain individuals such as elderly, chronically ill, pregnant women, young children, elite exercisers and those on medication, take extra care.

Certain medicines, such as antidepressants, diuretics, beta blockers and neuroleptics, can affect the body’s fluid and heat regulation.

“If you take this type of medicine, it is good to contact your doctor when there is a heat wave. Sometimes you may need to temporarily change the dose”, Andersson told TT.

Caution should also be taken with young children under the age of five, as they haven’t yet developed their ability to sweat properly.

“They need help to stay cool and replenish fluids continuously. Another tip is to serve extra liquid-rich food, such as vegetables and fruit”, Andersson said.

Pregnant women should also take extra care in the heat, she added.

The most dangerous consequence of prolonged heat is dehydration, which often affects the elderly and people who exert themselves physically.

“Our general advice is to drink more than usual when it is hot. But what is right depends on who you are. For example, people with certain types of kidney disease should not drink too much. You must check with your doctor.”

Elin Andersson says that heat stroke is unusual in Sweden but heat-fatigue is more common.

“You can feel tired, dizzy, weak, nauseous and have an elevated heart rate. Heat exhaustion can become severe and turn into heat stroke. This is when the heart rate gets even higher and the body’s heat regulation stops working.”

Other symptoms are that sweating may stop completely and that you lose consciousness.

“If you suspect heat stroke, you should always call 112”, she said.

In Båstad, the municipal water company is urging residents to be restrained with their use of water, as there is a risk the taps will be empty by this afternoon.

“We had normal behaviour until half past three yesterday, then a completely crazy consumption began that ended at midnight. Then the same trend started again this morning”, Jonas Håkansson, head of the Drinking Water department at NSVA, told newswire TT.

“This has to do with the heat. It is obvious that many people come to their summer houses where they plan to celebrate Midsummer and think that they can use the drinking water exactly as they want.

“One feels a great deal of frustration and disappointment that people do not take greater individual responsibility,” he said.

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Parts of Sweden to get a month’s worth of rain in a single day

Sweden's meteorological institute, SMHI, has warned that torrential rain will hit large parts of the country on Friday, with parts of the country getting a month's worth of rain in a single day.

Parts of Sweden to get a month's worth of rain in a single day

The forecaster on Friday issued a yellow warning – the lowest level on a three-point scale – for an area stretching over most of Sweden. The areas where heavy downpours are forecast includes Götaland, which goes from Malmö and Gothenburg, in the south, Svealand in the middle of Sweden ( with the exception of east coast areas such as Stockholm), and southern Norrland between Gävle to Östersund.

“It’s quite a large warning area,” SMHI meteorologist Charlotta Eriksson told TT. “It’s larger than what we would usually announce.”

“There won’t be heavy rain in the whole area and there won’t be consequences everywhere, but that’s where the largest risks are”.

From Friday afternoon into the evening and early Saturday morning, there is a high risk of torrential rains and strong thunder.

“In this area there could be a lot of downpours and a risk of torrential rain which could cause flooding at viaducts, for example,” she said.

The strongest downpours could see up to 70 millimetres of rain falling in some areas.

“That’s about what we’d usually see during a normal – or what used to be normal – August, because it’s become more common to see large amounts of torrential rain like this now,” she said.

A yellow warning means that there are risks to infrastructure and some risks to the public.

“This time it’s mainly a warning for cities, where the water can’t drain away. There will be the same amount of rain in other areas, but it won’t be as noticeable there.”

The weather is expected to improve on Saturday morning, Eriksson said.

“It will get worse this afternoon, move further north during the evening and start to lessen from the south. When it reaches Norrland, it won’t be as strong.”