The summer season in Japan is hard to endure. For those who might not have experienced summer in Japan before, Japanese summers usually last from roughly the end of May to about the end of September. While May tends to be pleasantly sunny and warm, the rest of the summer is different. As most of Japan is located in the tropical to northern temperate climate zone, the weather is much hotter and more humid than most visitors to the area would expect. Before making the journey to Japan, especially in the summer, it is essential for you to prepare for weather that you might not have encountered before. Severe medical conditions, such as heatstroke, may arise if you are not prepared, and no one wants to visit the hospital on vacation or during their first summer living in Japan.
What Is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke occurs when the temperature of the body rises sharply. This may happen because of excessively high outside temperatures, physical exertion, extensive burns and severe sunburn, or because of an undiagnosed medical condition. Heatstroke is a serious condition, which occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. The heat can affect anyone, but some people are at greater risk of serious harm. These include the elderly, babies and young children, and people who are physically active. Certain medications can also make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
Where Do People Usually Get Heatstroke in Japan?
In Japan, people usually get heatstroke at the beach or concert halls, where a large number of people are gathered together during the hot summer season. A lot of incidents happen when people do not drink sufficient water before they participate in activities. In Japan, there is a significant number of individuals who die because of heatstroke. According to this helpful page on heatstroke by NHK, more than 50,000 people in Japan are hospitalized due to heatstroke every year, and hundreds die due to the heat. Therefore, it is critical for you to take care of yourself and not get heatstroke. So how exactly can you prevent heat stroke?
How Should You Prevent Heatstroke?
In Japan, there are various kinds of sports drinks available at convenience stores and vending machines. To avoid heatstroke, it is widely recommended to consume salt, minerals, and water. A bottle of water contains only a few minerals, but Japanese sports drinks contain lots of minerals and are tasty. Drink these kinds of drinks regularly, as they can prevent you from getting heatstroke.
There are also several tips for you to avoid getting heatstroke in summer. First, don’t overexert yourself. You should know your limit, and you have to know when to rest. While you are working, you should be drinking a quart of fluids an hour, and as indicated before, you should be drinking sports drinks. Apart from drinks, also be careful of what you wear. Wear loose clothing light in color and fabric, as well as a hat and sunblock. Also, to avoid dehydration because of the sunlight, stay in the shade or indoors if possible. When you are indoors, you should open windows and use fans or turn on air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a public place that does, like a mall, library, or movie theater. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can speed up dehydration. Finally, be a good neighbor: check on the elderly and chronically ill regularly to make sure they’re bearing up under the heat.
What to Do When You See People Who Are Ill
If you suspect someone has heatstroke, immediately call an ambulance or transport the person to a hospital. While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, initiate first aid. Move the person to an air-conditioned environment — or at least a cool, shady area — and remove any unnecessary clothing. If possible, take the person’s core body temperature and initiate first aid to cool it to 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. (If no thermometers are available, don’t hesitate to start first aid.) You can also try these strategies: fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose. You can also apply ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature. You can also immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water. If the person is young and healthy and has suffered heatstroke while exercising vigorously (what’s known as exertional heatstroke), you can use an ice bath to help cool the body.
Staying Safe From Heatstroke
There’s a lot to enjoy during summer in Japan, but be mindful of how you’re feeling, and make sure to care for your body with rest, hydration, and protection from the sun. And be sure to help others, too, who may be overheated and are at risk of suffering from heatstroke.
This article was originally published on June 3, 2017 and updated and republished on July 14, 2021.