31 photos show how people have endured blistering heat waves around the world this summer

As a heat wave descends upon New York, people seek refuge from the record high temperatures at the beach in Coney Island.

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As a heat wave descends upon New York, people seek refuge from the record high temperatures at the beach in Coney Island.
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Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty

  • Heat waves have swept the world this summer.
  • The US, Europe, Japan, Russia, and Greenland all experienced, at times, record-breaking high temperatures in June and July.
  • From Rome to Washington to Tokyo, see how people around the world have tried to escape the heat.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

No one can outrun the heat, not this year.

It’s the height of August, and many parts of the world have been dealing with relentless heat waves this summer. The US, Europe, Japan, Russia, and Greenland have all experienced record-breaking high temperatures. July was likely the hottest month in recorded history.

These heat waves don’t care about borders. Few cultural differences exist when it comes to keeping cool.

Wildfires are burning in Alaska and Russia, and Greenland is melting rapidly. People try to escape the relentless heat in fire hydrants, fountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans alike.

Here are 31 photos showing the struggle to stay cool, hydrated, and even-tempered during a particularly hot summer.


In New York, a man splashes his face in July, using a fountain as best he can.

In July, the New York Triathlon was canceled because of the heat for the first time ever. The organization donated 1,900 gallons or water and Gatorade to New Yorkers in need.


In Brooklyn, children take the cooling off process a little more seriously.

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Children cool off at Herbert Von King Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
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Yana Paskova / Getty

In July, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the city as the heat index was expected to reach 115 degrees.


In Washington Heights, New York, fire hydrants are harnessed to keep cool.

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A girl cools off from the heat in water from an open fire hydrant in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan in New York City.
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Mike Segar / Reuters

Just don’t open it improperly. Every minute a fire hydrant is open illegally, more than 1,000 gallons pour out. To stop water wastage, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection deploys a team of teenagers to inform New Yorkers about the dangers of it. But New Yorkers can request that firefighters open a hydrant to use as a sprinkler – officially.


In Washington D.C., there’s no rest for those behind the camera, even in sunny weather. Here, a man keeps himself cool while fulfilling his duties as photographer, in the World War II Memorial.

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Tourists cool off at a fountain during hot weather at the Word War Two Memorial in Washington.
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Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Washington D.C. has 20 public pools people can swim in to keep cool.


Cold treats can help. This traveler from Chile is eating a blue slushie.

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Visitors from Chile during a hot day in Washington DC.
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Mary F. Calvert / Reuters

Cucumber, tomatoes, and chillies are also recommended heating during a heat wave.


Outside the big cities, taking one’s mind off the heat is a little more on the nose. Here, a pair race down the Guadalupe River, in Texas.

One Texan told The New York Times, “A summer day below 100 degrees is an invigorating as an arctic blast.”


And here a woman takes a slightly more measured approach to keeping cool.

Here’s a list of 10 swimming holes to cool off at in Texas.


In Boston, kids and adults alike cool off in the fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

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Kids and adults cool off in a fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Massachusetts.
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Brian Snyder / Reuters

The city provides a map of places to cool off.


In Alaska, a man wields both an umbrella and an icy treat to keep himself and a child cool.

In July, Alaska had its hottest day for at least 100 years, and then three days later it had an even hotter day. Temperatures have been so hot that smoke from wildfires can be seen in space.


In the United Kingdom, a guard does his best to ignore the heat. It requires a jaw-clenching effort.

Britain struggles particularly with the heat – most of its homes aren’t built to keep cool; instead they’re built to keep warm. It also named one hot day in July “Furnace Friday.”


Across the English Channel, Parisians and tourists sit in the shade by the Seine River. One of the best ways to keep cool is to stay out of direct sun.

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The banks of the Seine river in Paris are filling up with people enjoying shade by the water.
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Regis Duvignau / Reuters

Paris also has 1,200 water fountains, 48 water misters, and 35 drinking fountains that can also function as sprinklers.


On July 25, Paris recorded an all-time high temperature – 108.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Trocadero fountain was opened to the public to keep people cool.

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Tourists and Parisians cooling off in the water of the Trocadero fountain.
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Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pools like this are vital in Europe since air-conditioning is rare – it’s found in less than 5% of French homes.


In southern France, an art installation called “Umbrella Sky Project” provides visitors with a photo opportunity and lots of cover from the sun.

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The “Umbrella Sky Project” is by the Portuguese artist Patricia Cunha.
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Boris Horvat / AFP / Getty

This exhibition, made up of hundreds of umbrellas, has been held in cities and towns across the world since 2011.


Where umbrellas aren’t available, walls become essential. Knowing where the shade begins in Rome can be vital for survival.

European cities get it worse than suburbia and rural areas when it comes to heat waves. They get almost twice as many, due to concrete and asphalt soaking up the day’s heat then releasing it at night.


Elsewhere in the city, fountains provide limited relief. Recently imposed rules now ban people from swimming in them.

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Tourists at a fountain in front of the Pantheon monument.
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Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty

Since late 2018, it has been illegal to bathe human or animal body parts in well-known fountains, like the lion fountains in Piazza del Popolo. People who break these rules can be made to leave the city for two days.


So tourists need to keep hydrated other ways.

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A tourists refreshes during an unusually early heatwave in 2019 in Rome.
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Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty

Experts recommended aiming for 10 glasses of water a day during hot weather.


In Spain, these men happily soak up the sun at the beach.

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Men enjoy themselves at the beach, as a heatwave hits Spain, in Malaga, southern Spain.
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Jon Nazca / Reuters

By the end of June, two people had died from heat stroke in Spain. One was a 17-year-old boy and the other was an elderly man.


In the Netherlands, a small pool provides some sort of relief.

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People in Eindhoven, North Brabant, The Netherlands keep cool during record heat.
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Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto / Getty

In July, the Netherlands broke its highest recorded temperature when it reached 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.


Russia is also melting in the heat. Pictured here are people bathing at a beach in St. Petersburg.

If beaches aren’t preferable, there’s always the Vuoksi River, filled with islands and rapids, which has water that’s meant to be cleaner than the Gulf of Finland.


In Moscow, girls cool off by the fountain in front of Ostankino Tower.

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Girls cool off by a fountain in front of the Ostankino Tower in Moscow.
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Mikhail Tereshchenko / TASS / Getty

Moscow has more than 500 fountains, and some of them are worth a lot of money – one called The Stone Flower Fountain cost $18.6 million to restore.


This woman is enjoying a fountain in Alexander Garden in Moscow.

Moscow has more than 100 parks within its city limits, which can feel a lot cooler than concrete and asphalt.


Men in the city take the plunge, leaping off a bridge into the cooling waters of a reservoir.

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Men jump from a bridge into Khimri Reservoir.
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Artyom Geodakyan / TASS / Getty

Moscow also has a selection of beaches where swimming is “officially allowed.” Here’s a list of 10 of them.


Like Britain, guards in Russia maintain their positions despite the heat. Here, one soldier wipes the sweat off the brow of another.

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Honor guards wiping sweat at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
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Sergei Savostyanov / TASS / Getty

In June, Moscow reached a record high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s usually in the 70s.


While in Siberia, the northern Russian province, 7 million acres of woodland were lost due to wildfires.

At a press conference in July, the head of Russia’s meteorological service said the fires in Siberia were linked to climate change.


In Greenland, a visitor walks along the hillside above icebergs floating in the Ilulissat Icefjord. Summers are getting longer in Greenland and its icecap is retreating at an accelerated pace.

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A visitor walks along a hillside near icebergs floating in the Ilulissat Icefjord in a bank of fog during a week of unseasonably warm weather in August.
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Sean Gallup / Getty

Eighty-two percent of Greenland is covered by ice, and by July 31, it had hit a record for melting – 56.5% was melted.


Humpback whales swim next to an iceberg in Greenland. The country’s ice sheet was at a record low in 2012, and it looks like it’ll be heading back that way if the heat continues.

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Humpback whales swim next to an iceberg at the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord in August.
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Sean Gallup / Getty

Melting at this level has not been seen since 2012. In July alone, 197 billion tons of ice melted in Greenland.


Here, the ice in Greenland is seen melting rapidly.

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Ice melting during a heatwave in Greenland on August 1.
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Caspar Haarloev / Into The Ice / Reuters

In 24 hours, 12.5 billion tons of ice melted in Greenland, which would be enough to cover Florida in nearly 5 inches of water.


In Japan, a taxi driver takes a nap in his car to make the most of air conditioning.

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A taxi driver takes a nap in his air conditioned car.
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Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty

This year, at least 57 people have died in Japan, and 18,000 have been hospitalized from the heat. Most have been over 65.


In the Shibuya district, in Tokyo, a woman protects herself from the sun with an umbrella.

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A woman protects herself from the sun with an umbrella.
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Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty

In 2018, Japan also had a deadly heat wave, when 65 people died from heat-related deaths within one week in July.


Other women in Tokyo use portable fans to try and cool off.

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Women use portable fans as they walk in the street during a heatwave in Tokyo.
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Charly Triballeau / AFP / Getty

Some of the highest temperatures were recorded in central Japan, where it reached 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in Gifu Prefecture at the end of July.


People in Japan have been flocking to the beach this summer. It’s one of the few things people near any coast, no matter the country, can rely on.

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People flock to Zushi Beach in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, for sea bathing amid the scorching summer heat.
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Kyodo News / Getty

Here’s a guide to some of Japan’s best beaches.