Someone tell the Russians not to drink and swim. More than 1,200 Russians have drowned trying to get some relief during this year's current heatwave. Most were drunk, say Russian officials. Some children have also drowned because their parents or caretakers did not look after them.
Last week, six young summer campers drowned in the Sea of Azov while their camp counselors were drinking.
TOO HOT TO BE DRY
Russians are rushing to the rivers, lakes and public fountains -- often toting bottles of vodka and beer -- and they are drinking and dunking. They have always drunk their vodka, then go into the water, come out and drink some more -- even when there wasn't a heat wave.
"It's very, very common," said Nadezdha Voronova, picnicing with her family by a Moscow pond, reports ABC News. "(First we) drink, then go swimming. After swimming, we go drinking. It's like a circle."
It's their heritage and they don't mess with tradition. Nyet!
In fact, another phrase for getting drunk now is 'getting Boris Yeltsin.'
BOOZE IS SECOND NATIONAL CURRENCY
To quote Pravda, the Russian news agency, Russia is "a country where booze is considered something akin to the second national currency" and the rapidly increasing alcohol abuse is a "nation-wide calamity."
RUSSIAN AVERAGE IS 27 LITERS ALCOHOL PER YEAR
By official statistics, Russia had about 7 million alcoholics as of 2006. The real national totals are much higher. Each Russians drinks 27 liters of alcohol per year. (But that statistical average is based on the whole population -- the newborn, elderly and even abstainers.) "The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates stress the point that a nation is likely to die out if its citizens drink an average of 8 liters of alcohol per year," reports Pravda. Hello! Russian's average is more than three times as much.
130-YEAR RECORD HEAT
The heat wave settled over Russia in mid-June. The region has had record-breaking heat with temperatures up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency, as reported by CNN.
The scorching heat has caused an emergency situation, with Russia's chief physician urging citizens to take naps in the afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day. Problems of heat stroke and sunburn are affecting children. And adults with heart problems and diabetes are experiencing dangerous complications due to the heat.
MELTING ASPHALT, DRYED-UP WATER WELLS
Traffic accidents are increasing due to softened asphalt on the roads, although in Moscow trucks are spraying down the streets to keep asphalt from melting. Water wells are drying, up causing water shortages, and crops are withering. Some 25 million acres of crops have been destroyed.
TE OF EMERGENCY
In 16 regions the government has declared a state of emergency in Russia, suffering its worst drought in 130 years.
It's not only Russia suffering this blistering heat wave, but much of Europe -- from western Germany to Russia's Urals mountains the weather is at baking temperatures.
For example, the air-conditioning systems on Deutsche Bahn -- Germany's high-speed national trains -- has broken down a couple of times. It's miserable. With locked windows, passengers were hit with heat exhaustion after being trapped for hours in 122-degree temperatures.
Let's wish the Russians: Za Vashe Zdorovye! ("To your health!")
A drinking toast, of course.
by Sharon McEachern