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Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010


Avoiding the hot spots

This summer is unusually hot. From May 31 to Aug. 1, ambulances took a total of 21,032 people to hospitals for heat stroke; 98 of them died shortly after arrival. The death toll is expected to rise significantly as those who died later are added. The frequency of ambulance dispatches is higher than in 2007 when a record 923 people died of heat stroke. People cannot be too careful in their efforts to prevent heat stroke.

When the temperature rises to 35 C or more and there is no wind, the chance of getting hit by heat stroke soars. In principle, one should then refrain from outdoor activities such as sports and agricultural or construction work.

At this temperature, even rooms are not safe. One can easily come down with heat stroke inside a room if there is no wind or if an air conditioner or electric fan is not running. At night the critical temperature is 30 C or higher. High humidity and lack of wind can also lead to heat stroke if the temperature is not this high.

Avoiding a hot place is the most important advice. When one goes outside, he or she should wear a hat or use a parasol. Drink lots of water. It must not be forgotten that salt is lost as one sweats. Salt can be replenished in the body with a sports drink.

Infants and elderly people are prone to heat stroke because their temperature adjustment functions are relatively weak. In 2007, 75 percent of those who died of heat stroke were 65 years old or older. One often fails to notice the onset of heat stroke. A headache, nausea, convulsion or giddiness is a symptom. Cool your body with water or ice or by fanning yourself. Ingest water and salt. Call an ambulance if someone loses consciousness.

In urban areas, older people living alone without air conditioning often fall victim to heat stroke. Local governments and neighbors must intervene, if needed, to help these people.

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