• Kyodo News


The number of heatstroke victims rushed to hospitals between May 31 and Sunday totaled 31,579 nationwide, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday.

Among them, 132 people died of heatstroke shortly after being hospitalized, according to the agency’s preliminary report.

In July alone, 17,680 people were taken to hospitals for heatstroke, of whom 94 died. Both figures were record highs for the month since the agency started compiling data in 2008.

August is seeing a continued high occurrence of heatstroke.

“Statistics are moving at the worst pace since 2008, when our agency began to compile relevant data, so we want people to remain alert. Late-summer heat is expected to stay intense,” an agency official said.

Among those hospitalized, 1,170 people, or 3.7 percent, showed severe heatstroke symptoms upon arrival, and 11,266, or 35.7 percent, exhibited moderate symptoms, while 17,922 people, or 56.8 percent, had mild symptoms.

By age bracket, 47.7 percent were 65 or older.

The Meteorological Agency said intense heat waves continued to engulf a wide area of the archipelago Tuesday under the influence of a high-pressure ridge over the Pacific.

The mercury topped 35 for the third straight day in the Otemachi business district in central Tokyo, the agency said.

Experts advise drinking water and taking salt to avoid dehydration.

Yutaka Inaba, a professor of public hygiene at Jissen Women’s University, said there is a misunderstanding that people suffer heatstroke only while outdoors. People are also at risk indoors as well, he said.

Elderly people tend not to drink enough water before going to bed because they don’t want to have to go to the bathroom during the night, Inaba said, but they should take water or a sports drink before sleeping.

“A cup of water with a teaspoon of salt or with one ‘umeboshi’ (pickled plum) would help,” he said.

Yoko Kajiwara, a professor of sports science at Bunkyo University, said many elderly people have died in their homes with the air conditioners turned off.

When the temperature is high, people should use air conditioners even just for a few hours when they sleep, she said.

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