Take precautions amid sudden arrival of extreme heat

Even though it is only June, record-breaking heat is being observed in many parts of the nation. As people’s bodies are not accustomed to extreme heat, they need to be more vigilant against heatstroke than usual.

The rainy season has ended in the southern Kyushu, Tokai and Kanto-Koshin regions. The Kanto-Koshin region saw the earliest end to the rainy season in history. The city of Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture has already seen a temperature of 40.2 C, the highest ever recorded in June, and central Tokyo has experienced extreme heat of 35 C or higher.

The unusually early arrival of such high temperatures has raised concerns about a sharp increase in heatstroke. Many cases of heatstroke occur during exercise among people ages 10-19, and during work among those in their 30s to 50s. Elderly people, on the other hand, often suffer heatstroke at home.

Even if the temperature is not that high, high humidity makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate and for heat to escape from the body. The Environment Ministry releases a heat index that takes humidity and solar radiation into account, and issues a heatstroke alert on particularly dangerous days.

It is important to refer to such information while planning for work and outings. As for local events and sports activities, local governments and organizers should cancel them or take longer breaks depending on the situation.

Many of the elderly people who died of heatstroke in Tokyo’s 23 wards last summer were not using air conditioners even though they were available. It is important to turn on the air conditioner appropriately, even at night, without thinking “I can handle this level of heat.”

The power supply is on a tightrope. The supply-demand balance became so tight Monday evening in the service areas of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. that the government issued its first power shortage advisory. With electricity prices soaring, some people must feel hesitant to use air conditioners.

However, tens of thousands of people a year are transported by ambulance to hospitals due to heatstroke. The number of deaths from heatstroke is also on the rise, with more than 1,000 people dying annually in recent years. It is important to cooperate in saving electricity, but this should be done to a reasonable degree, so that people stay in good conditions.

Instead of refraining from using air conditioners, people should try to increase the effectiveness of cooling by blocking sunlight into rooms and using fans to circulate the air.

There are concerns about a short supply of air conditioners due to the global shortage of parts and the disruption of distribution networks. Even if a person purchases one, it may take a long time to be delivered. People must swiftly check existing air conditioners and act quickly if they need to replace them.

The government says that a mask is not necessary when someone is outdoors and can maintain a safe distance from others. It is advisable to wear and remove masks appropriately, taking the heat into account.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2022)