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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 July 18 - 24  > Nearly 10K people taken to hospital due to heatstroke within one week
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2018 July 18 - 24 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Nearly 10K people taken to hospital due to heatstroke within one week

July 22 & 23, 2018

A scorching heat wave has been hitting a large area of the Japanese archipelago. Temperatures already exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the mornings in many locations and reach more than 40C (104F) in the afternoons in several locations.

The government statistics show that 9,956 people nationwide were taken to hospital due to heatstroke between July 9 and July 15 of this year, and that 12 of them died.

The death toll from the heat includes only people who died shortly after being admitted to hospital. If adding those who were already dead on the spot before an ambulance arrived or who died after treatment at a hospital, the figures would be much higher.

According to other government data, heat waves in the year 2010 resulted in 1,731 deaths, the largest in postwar Japan. People aged 65 and older accounted for 80% of the victims.

Specially-appointed professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University Fujibe Fumiaki, a meteorology expert, said, "An increase of 1 degree will increase the number of deaths by 1.5 times. The higher the temperature recorded, the higher the mortality rate," and warns, "Especially in late July, it is necessary to pay careful attention."

The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine on July 20 issued an urgent proposal for the first time in its 45-year-history in order to deal with the unprecedented heat waves.

A temperature of above 31C under the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) makes it difficult for human beings to release body heat as the temperature becomes higher than skin temperature. According to the association's statement, outdoor sports and activities should be cancelled in principle and indoor activities should be avoided if there is no air conditioner inside. The association recommends that special attention be paid to children, elderly people, and chronic disease sufferers as they are vulnerable to heatstroke.

However, in public elementary and junior high schools in Japan, less than 50% of classrooms have air conditioners installed, and as for gyms, slightly more than one percent only, according to a Ministry of Education survey.

The Japan Meteorological Agency also calls on people to stay home, use air conditioners, drink more water, and take supplemental salt as countermeasures against heatstroke.

Past related issues:
> Tokyo’s extreme summer heat may adversely affect Olympic athletes [July 30, 2014]
> Welfare recipients also deserve A/C [September 8, 2013]
> Steps to prevent heatstroke deaths needed [August 24, 2010]
> List of Past issues
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