In the past week, fires have raged across the countryside in Spain, Portugal, and France. These have caused extensive damage, with many people becoming injured and even some losing their lives.
These fires are nothing new, due to dry conditions and strong winds in these regions over the past few years. But they also result in thousands of British holidaymakers getting evacuated and often cutting their holidays short.
The Portuguese Civil Protection says “Each year wildfires cause massive damage to our rural areas, putting the lives of the public and firefighters at risk and result in extensive damage to our environment and property.
“Many of these fires are caused by negligence and are preventable.”
Advice from the Home Office is currently to remain vigilant and to stay away from the affected areas. But they also advise that holidaymakers should follow all advice issued to you.
During the summer months, wildfires are a real threat for those countries near the Mediterranean. And they are often started by cigarettes, campfires, and barbecues.
So if you’re a smoker, you must ensure that you always dispose of cigarettes in a responsible manner. And if you’re tempted to set up a fire to sit around or cook food on, then it needs to be in line with local regulations.
In many forested areas of France, for example, it is illegal and severe penalties are given to those who break the law.
When you’re abroad, you need to know the number to dial in an emergency. The European Emergency Number is 112, and you can use it to contact the local emergency services in any European country.
So if you spot a fire, or see something suspicious, then you must get yourself to safety and inform the relevant authorities.
When you’re travelling on the continent in the car, you need to also ensure you have everything you need to drive on their roads legally. These include GB stickers, hi-vis jackets, and first aid kits.
Some countries also require, or recommend, that every car has a small extinguisher. Although meant to prevent a small car fire from getting out of control, they’re also good to have in case you have an emergency away from the car.
And when it comes to extinguishing a fire in vegetation, wildfire beaters, shovels and hoses are the best things to use, if you have them nearby.
Otherwise, raise the alarm and get to safety. Do not disturb the operation of firefighters, follow their instructions and ensure your vehicles are not preventing access.
If you’re getting ready for a trip to the continent, make sure you’re familiar with local regulations and emergency procedures so you can comply with them. But also stay safe, remain vigilant, and most importantly, have a good time.
And remember that European Emergency Number – 112.