TOKYO (majirox news) — A heat wave in Japan has hospitalized 5,467 people with heatstroke and been responsible for the deaths of 13 people between July 16 and 22. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency, which reported these figures, says this is the highest weekly number of heatstroke victims on record. The previous week saw only half of this number of sufferers – 2,622. The nation also experienced record temperatures for the time of year – 36 degrees (about 97 F).
“We believe the reason for the big increase in heatstroke is the sudden rise in temperature over the last two weeks,” said Dr. Yukako Hinohara, a specialist in the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. “About 46 percent of those hospitalized were 65 years old, 40 percent were adults and about 14 percent were under 17. However, we haven’t seen an increase in the number of elderly with heatstroke this year, but have seen it in middle-aged adults.”
Those who died included a 37-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack, and an 80-year-old man who was found dead in a construction site in Niigata, northwestern Japan.
“Unfortunately, we are not hopeful that the situation is going to improve,” Hinohara said. “We’re handing out pamphlets, and using the media to advise people to drink a lot of water with salt in it.”
Some have slightly more unusual ways to beat the heat.
An elderly man says he pours cold water over his head and keep the air-conditioner on.
Another woman here wears long gloves and uses a sun umbrella to protect her from the sun. “I don’t feel that hot, it seemed hotter last year,” she said.
But even so, the TV broadcasts continue to warn people against the dangers of the heat, as Japan bakes in the summer sunshine, and the sufferers continue to find ways of coping.