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Preventing Heath Strokes

Ivan and his family came to Japan from Russia when he was transferred to the Japanese branch of his company. Both Maria, his wife, and Olga, his daughter, are surprised at their first experience of summer in Japan.

Maria

I heard that it was hot and humid in summer in Japan, but it is more than I expected. Olga, do you have any problems with your physical condition?

Olga

I'm all right, but one of my classmates, who was playing in the schoolyard during lunch break today, suddenly felt sick and was taken to the school clinic. I heard she had a slight heat stroke. Daddy, what is heat stroke?

Ivan

When one spends a lot of time in high temperature and humidity, it may be difficult to release body heat or lower the body temperature by evaporating sweat; this causes a heat stroke. Minor symptoms include dizziness, headache, and nausea; however, if the symptoms become severe, consciousness disorders may also occur.

Maria

People can die from heat stroke, so we have to be careful to prevent it.

Ivan

One of my colleagues said that we had to pay attention to heat stroke even in our office this summer.

Olga

What do you mean? Can someone suffer heat stroke even inside a building?

Ivan
Yes. Spending time in a humid, muggy room may trigger dehydration, even when you don't seem to be sweating. In some cases, this may even lead to heat stroke. As you know, this year we have to save electrical power by setting air conditioner temperatures higher than usual in our office. Even Japanese find it hard to get used to such an environment, especially if it's their first time.

What can we do to help prevent heat stroke? Olga passes on some tips about avoiding heat strokes that she learned from her school nurse.

Olga

According to our school nurse, the most important thing you can do to prevent heat stroke is to keep yourself physically fit. Heat often causes a loss of appetite, and thus you should be sure to eat proper, nutritious meals, and to sleep well especially when it is hot. When you don't feel well, even if only slightly, you should not exercise outside, or even go outdoors, during the daytime.

Maria

What you wear is also very important. It's better to wear cool clothes with good air ventilation functions. I have heard that, these days, clothes and underwear made of materials that can "breathe" and absorb sweat are being sold. We should go and buy such clothes when we have a chance, such as on our days off.

Olga

Our teacher also told us that we should drink water frequently, even when we don't feel thirsty. Since we also lose body salts when we sweat, we have to replace these lost salts with water. On top of that, we should avoid sun exposure as much as possible when walking or doing other things outdoors.

Maria

I'll try to use a parasol, then. Ivan, Olga—I strongly recommend that you two wear a cap or hat when you go outside.

Ivan

It is also said that it is important to build up one's resistance to heat. If we get into the habit of sweating regularly, for example, by walking, we become better able to release body heat when necessary. We should have already done that, however, before the hot summer arrived!

Maria

Well, that is our assignment for preparing for next summer, then! Let's try to do moderate exercise, step by step, in order to get fit so that we can sweat more efficiently.

For more information on heat stroke as provided by the Ministry of the Environment, please:http://www.env.go.jp/chemi/heat_stroke/index.html (Japanese only)