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Heat wave sees 47 students at Madrid high school require treatment

Regional health official had said in radio interview that children should “make paper fans” to combat scorching temperatures

As Spaniards swelter in the first hot spell of the year, Madrid’s health commissioner is recommending making paper fans to combat the rising mercury. During an interview this week, Jesús Sánchez Martos said he is not a supporter of air conditioning in schools, and suggested that children should make fans out of paper to deal with the heat in their classrooms.

A Madrid classroom.
A Madrid classroom.

Besides helping feel cooler, this activity could be part of “a very relevant occupational therapy for children, making [the fans] the way we used to when I was a kid: fold, fold, fold and there’s the fan,” said the regional official in statements to Cadena SER radio station. “Air conditioning is not the solution for everything. Classrooms could be ventilated and have drinking water available.”

Four days of “unusually high temperatures” in Spain are now giving way to an official heat wave

The statements came on the same day that the Madrid health department activated a special plan to prevent negative effects from the high temperatures recorded in the region – and elsewhere in Spain – since early this week.

On Wednesday, there were several reports of Madrid school children suffering from heat-related incidents. And on Thursday morning, 47 students from the Neil Armstrong High School in Valdemoro required medical assistance, according to a spokeswoman for the regional emergency services 112.

Combating the heat in Valencia.
Combating the heat in Valencia.

Four of the teens were taken to the local hospital – three due to anxiety attacks and one with a sprain. The others, ages 12 through 18, took refuge in the funeral parlor across the school because it had air conditioning.

“The Department of Education should urgently supply centers with what they need,” said Isabel Galvín, secretary general of the Madrid Teaching Federation of the CC OO labor union, criticizing the regional government’s lack of investment in school infrastructure to deal with these situations.

In the meantime, four days of “unusually high temperatures” are now giving way to an official heat wave, according to the Spanish weather service, AEMET.

Air conditioning is not the solution for everything

Jesús Sánchez Martos, Madrid health commissioner

The meteorology agency said that the weather event will last at least into Sunday, and mostly affect central and southwestern Spain.

Highs will reach 40 to 42ºC in many parts of the country, while lows will not drop below 22 to 25ºC at night. The AEMET has issued weather alerts in 30 provinces.

English version by Susana Urra.

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