In January 2015, two homeless people died in Valencia after freezing temperatures hit the city. In a country usually associated with sunshine, it’s perhaps unsurprising that until now no study has been made of the effect of the cold in Spain. But a report by researchers at the Madrid-based Carlos III Health Institute shows that deaths as a result of cold weather are as numerous or higher than those brought about by heatwaves, and that these deaths tend to take place in warmer areas of Spain that are unprepared for sudden temperature falls. This new data should be a wake-up call for the authorities at a time when the ongoing economic crisis means growing numbers of households cannot afford to put the heating on, and when homelessness is on the rise.
But as Julio Díaz, who worked on the report, points out, the authorities have done little. “There are no plans to deal with these cold weather snaps,” he says. The report is based on surveys carried out in 52 towns and cities throughout the country between 2000 and 2009 on cold-related deaths. Each city, depending on its location, has its own criteria for activating emergency plans. In Ávila – Spain’s highest city, located some 1,131 meters above sea level on the central Castilian plains, and where the average winter temperature is around 5ºC – that means when the thermometer falls to -10ºC. But in the southern city of Cadiz, anything lower than 6ºC is considered serious; in Madrid, the authorities take measures to help the vulnerable when the temperature falls to below -2ºC.
Leer la noticia completa en El País.