Hitzefrei | Culture | Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 09.07.2013

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How hot is too hot?

Those who live near the equator are so accustomed to high temperatures that they can easily sleep and work even when the mercury threatens to burst out of the thermometer. In other places, air conditioning is commonplace, so that you practically need a sweater even on the most sizzling of summer days.

But in Germany, neither is the case. Temperatures over 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) are - unfortunately - so rare that air conditioning is hardly worth installing and the average unacclimatized German's body and brain slowly cease to function when they do actually occur.

Instead of installing precautionary A/Cs for the rare event of great weather, German schools and workplaces declare hitzefrei (literally, heat free) when temperatures climb to unbearable levels. In many cases, workers are sent home when their workplace exceeds 26 degrees. In schools, the limit varies by state from 25 to 27 degrees.

On these days, the country becomes slightly less productive - but business booms at swimming pools and ice cream parlors.

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