A resident of Raval, on Monday night with the thermometer touching 31 degrees, on the balcony of his house. Gianluca Battista
It’s 11 pm on the Rambla del Raval in Barcelona, the thermometer reads 30.5 degrees, and in the playground the children are still running and jumping. “In this heat, you can’t live or sleep,” Nancy sighs, continuing to fan herself. She goes down to the park every night: “Until the child wants to.” They live next to where the palm tree that killed a woman a few weeks ago was. Her apartment is a mezzanine and they get by with a fan and showering “like ducks”. The heat is rampant at night in the Raval, where this summer the residents have already endured 76 tropical nights (with a minimum temperature of more than 20 degrees) and 27 torrid nights (with a minimum temperature of more than 25 degrees). The last two mornings of the current heat wave, the one from Monday to Tuesday and the previous one, the minimum registered by the Raval station has been 27.8, the highest of the three meters that the Meteorological Service of Catalonia (Meteocat ) has in Barcelona. It is important to note that the lowest temperature at night is usually registered at dawn, but at bedtime it is higher. The night from Monday to Tuesday it did not drop below 30 degrees until one in the morning.
In addition to registering the highest temperatures in the city at night, the urban, demographic and socioeconomic structure of the neighborhood worsens the effects of heat: a narrow urban fabric with few open spaces, a population density that doubles the city average ( El Raval has 47,000 inhabitants in just over a square kilometer) small or directly substandard housing, many overcrowded, some without ventilation and often located on commercial floors. The fans relieve. Air conditioning, for those who can afford it. And even so, power outages are frequent in the area close to Sant Antoni and leave the residents towed. Nocturnal thermal stress is added to daytime, which prevents the body from resting and has very harmful effects on health. There is already evidence that heat kills, such as the recent ISGlobal study that estimates 61,600 deaths in Europe during the torrid summer of last year.
When it’s been night for two hours, there are also children playing in the Ronda de Sant Antoni, in the space where the provisional market was during the works on the historic building. The heat island effect has a good example here. The neighborhood banks are all occupied. On the balconies, chairs and neighbors without a shirt with a face from here there is no one who sleeps.
Nancy, a resident of Barcelona’s Raval, in the children’s park on the neighborhood’s boulevard, close to eleven at night, in the middle of a heat wave.Gianluca Battista
The epidemiologist, professor at the universities of Alcalá and John Hopkins, and public health expert Manuel Franco points out that studies such as the one by ISGlobal show “two key issues: that heat waves cause more deaths than we thought and that southern countries We in Europe are the most affected, with horrifying figures”. And in the case of the Raval, he points to the consequences of the heat “on the vulnerable population, which suffers the most.” Factors such as income, which directly impacts housing, but also “the population that does not have vacations: people who are trapped, because no matter how much the thermometer rises, they cannot escape from the city, like those who have jobs in decent conditions, vacations and resources”.
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“I am overwhelmed tonight, I can’t, I have the fan in front of me. Yesterday it was horrible but today it is worse: the fan cools you down, but the sensation is suffocating, of being sticky and sweating non-stop waiting for winter to arrive”, says Núria, a pensioner, on Salvador street. “We are very tired and whoever has the fan or air pulls, when they have to pay, we’ll see how they do it.” Her neighbor Alma, from Sant Antoni Abad, celebrates by phone having been able to leave the neighborhood on vacation. On her floor, under the roof, “the walls are on fire.”
Malek, a resident of Raval, on the neighborhood’s boulevard, on Monday night, with the thermometer marking more than 30 degrees. Every night he goes down to the street because the apartment he shares is very hot.Gianluca Battista
The consequences of the heat also reach the neighborhood clinic. Nurse Antonia Raya explains that patients with symptoms caused by high temperatures arrive at the Primary Care Center (CAP Raval). “But what worries us the most,” she says, “is the people who are at home and don’t come here: older people with symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration who suffer from dizziness, fatigue, tachycardia… or falls caused by dizziness ”. In episodes of heat waves they make more home visits than usual, “older people who live in a sixth floor without an elevator and call you, patients with heart disease who decompensate.” Raya points out that the campaigns of the administrations are correct and celebrates the motto of the current one, of the Generalitat, “This heat is deadly”, but warns people that “they are not in a position to comply with the recommendations: it is difficult to ventilate when you do not you have windows”. The Administration should have devices for the population that cannot meet or leave home, she understands.
In a neighborhood like the Raval, in an episode like the current one, of continuous heat, the apartments do not have time to cool down and it is not strange that they are over 30 degrees. Qasim, originally from Pakistan (the main country of origin in a neighborhood where the migrant population reaches 51.9%), has also gone down the street with his two-year-old son. He says that he doesn’t rest well, although he is thankful for having a window and a fan that they share with his wife. He says that there are compatriots who go down to sleep in supermarkets, “because they have air conditioning.” Pakistanis are used to the heat of their country of origin, “but at least it rains there,” says Rashid, who shares a flat with four other people on Calle de la Aurora. Next to him is Malek, one of the companions: “You can’t be at home, although we each have a fan.” They are sitting on two benches and they assure that they will be “until 2 or 3 o’clock”. The next day, if they have work, because they don’t always have it, they are “dragged”. In his apartment there are only five of them, but Rashid warns of “how bad things will be for those who live in apartments where rooms are rented and 12 or 16 people can live together: you can’t even breathe.” “There are many people here who have mental health problems because of this,” he says.
This same year, at the city’s Science Biennial, a participatory and photographic project was presented in which teams from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Alcalá de Henares participated, in which 10 migrant residents of the neighborhood explained their experience during the waves of heat. They coincided in pointing out, as issues to be improved, greater control of the market and of housing and its conditions; improving public spaces with more trees and shade; and access to accessible public swimming pools.
Barcelona activates the emergency phase due to torrid nights of the heat plan
Barcelona City Council has activated the Intense Heat Emergency Phase for torrid nights of the Heat Plan because nighttime temperatures rose to 28 degrees Celsius for most of last night and the situation is expected to continue in the coming nights. In this emergency phase, it is proposed that vulnerable people be transferred to centers set up as climate shelters and, if necessary, the Emergency and Social Emergencies Center of Barcelona (CUESB) will also be activated as a place to spend the night for people who show great fragility.
Thus, the CUESB remains on alert in case it is necessary to carry out any specific intervention or any specific transfer of vulnerable people. The different care services for people of the Municipal Institute of Social Services (IMSS) maintain and expand the monitoring of people or families identified as highly vulnerable. Whenever possible, the appropriate measures are established to prevent them from going out onto the street: timely concession of food delivery service, delivery of fans, personalized attention at home. Likewise, vulnerable people determined by social services
or medical emergencies and who voluntarily accept it may be transferred to the CUESB Refuge Space or to other available ones.
As indicated by the consistory, the CUESB sent yesterday Monday to 6,347 users of Barcelona City Council’s social services who are detected as especially vulnerable people an SMS warning of extreme heat with a link with advice to combat the heat.
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