Planning a Trip to Greece? Extreme Heat Poses Serious Risks for Tourists

Greece - Argos town view from Larissa CastleThe early summer sun in Greece has become a silent predator, claiming the lives of unsuspecting tourists.

Michael Mosley, a beloved UK doctor and TV presenter, embarked on a hike under Symi’s searing sun, never to return.

This tragedy, one of many, highlights the dangers of the merciless heatwave gripping the nation, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Indian Angle

A significant rise of Indian travellers in GreeceGreece has become an increasingly popular destination for Indian tourists in recent years. According to data from the Greek National Tourism Organization, the number of Indian tourists visiting Greece has been rising steadily, with over 30,000 Indians visiting the country in 2022 alone.

By 2024, this number is expected to have increased to around 40,000, reflecting a growing trend of Indian travelers exploring Greece's rich history, culture, and scenic beauty.

This trend underscores the importance of awareness and preparation for Indian travelers planning trips to Greece, especially during the hot summer months.

What's Happening in Greece?

Ancient architecture of Greece.

Greece is currently enduring an intense early summer heatwave. Temperatures have rocketed past 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), coinciding with a disturbing increase in tourist deaths and disappearances, especially among those venturing out for hikes.

Who Are the Victims?

Woman relaxing while looking at Parthenon temple on a sunny day The tragic list includes Michael Mosley, whose name is well-known in UK households, and several other tourists from the Netherlands and the United States.

Additionally, two French women have gone missing. All shared a common fate: they were hiking or walking when they disappeared.

"There is a common pattern," Petros Vassilakis, the police spokesman for the Southern Aegean, told Reuters. "They all went for a hike amid high temperatures."

The Fiery Peril of Extreme Heat

Extreme heat in GreeceExtreme heat can transform a simple hike into a perilous adventure. Cognitive functions decline, and poor decisions become more likely.

"You're talking about potentially life-threatening situations, like making poor decisions, having your judgment clouded," warned Kim Meidenbauer, a neuroscientist at Washington State University.

Also read: 7 Best Things to See And Do Around Sicily

The Brain’s Struggle in the Heat

The Brain’s Struggle in the HeatThe brain, the control center of our bodies, struggles to function properly under extreme heat. "The brain, for me, is the key to it all," said Damian Bailey, a physiology and biochemistry professor.

In such heat, blood flow to the brain decreases, leading to confusion and impaired decision-making.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Older women is most at risk Older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and individuals with pre-existing conditions are particularly vulnerable. The unfortunate victims in Greece were all in their mid-50s and older.

Also read: Top 10 Global destinations to visit this summer with your family

Precautions for a Safer Adventure

Precautions for a Safer AdventureExperts advise avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day. Stay hydrated, wear loose clothing, and seek shade whenever possible.

Using location-sharing apps and ensuring someone knows your whereabouts can also enhance safety.

Safety Tips for Hiking in Hot Weather

Hiking in Hot Weather

  1. Choose Cooler Destinations and Seasons: Hiking companies like Walking Women and Intrepid Travel recommend exploring cooler destinations or hiking during more temperate months. Northern Europe offers ideal conditions for summer hiking.

  2. Adjust Your Daily Plans: If you can't change your travel dates, plan hikes for early mornings or evenings and avoid outdoor activities during the peak heat of the day. Take refuge indoors during midday.

  3. Plan Routes and Rest Stops: Familiarize yourself with your hiking route and plan regular rest stops. Inform someone about your plans, and never hike alone.

  4. Stay Hydrated and Eat Smart: Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and consume foods rich in water content. Keep a reusable water bottle handy and refill it often.

  5. Dress Appropriately: Choose loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Wear sunglasses, long sleeves, a wide-brimmed hat, and high SPF sunscreen.

  6. Recognize Heat-Related Symptoms: Be vigilant for signs of heatstroke and exhaustion such as weakness, dizziness, headache, and nausea. Seek shade and medical help immediately if symptoms occur.

  7. Utilize Technology: Use location-sharing apps like Google Maps, Life360, or other GPS tracking apps to let others know your exact location. Carry a portable phone charger to ensure your devices remain powered.

  8. Prepare an Emergency Kit: Include items like electrolyte packets, a first aid kit, cooling towels, and a whistle. These can be lifesaving in extreme conditions.

  9. Rest Often: Take breaks in the shade regularly to cool down your body. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion.

  10. Check Weather Forecasts: Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Postpone your hike if extreme temperatures or other severe weather conditions are predicted.

  11. Know the Terrain: Research the hiking trails beforehand. Understand the difficulty level and be aware of any potential hazards. Stick to marked paths and trails.

  12. Buddy System: If possible, hike with a companion. Having someone with you can provide assistance in emergencies and improve overall safety.

Also read: 14 Travel hacks to beat the heat in summers

Conclusion

Summer adventure n Greece As Greece faces an unprecedented early summer heatwave, the risks to tourists are severe. The heartbreaking disappearances and deaths of visitors underscore the urgent need for heightened awareness and caution.

If you're planning a trip, especially one involving outdoor activities like hiking, be mindful of the extreme conditions and take all necessary precautions.

Stay informed, stay hydrated, and always prioritize your safety.

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