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Heat Stroke in Japan: What to Do and How to Avoid It

Summers in Japan always feel overbearing, and it feels like every year is hotter than the last. But that feeling is probably correct this time. This past June saw the country’s highest temperatures on record for the month in an intense heatwave.

What also broke June records was the number of heat stroke victims, with a total of 15,969 people being admitted to hospital for it that month, over three times more than June 2021.

The heat is no joke! We want everyone safe out there, so to help you stay cool, here are some ways to beat the heat in Japan, and what to do if you or someone you know falls victim to heat stroke.

Useful Japanese vocabulary for heat stroke

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What about Cool Biz?!

If you or someone around you appears to be suffering from heat stroke, here are some useful words and phrases for explaining heat stroke in Japanese in case of an emergency.

English Japanese Romaji
Heat stroke 熱(ねっ)中(ちゅう)症(しょ) Necchusho
Is there a water fountain here? ここに水(みず)飲(の)み場(ば)がありますか? Koko ni mizu-nomiba ga arimasuka?
Can we turn on the [fan/air conditioning]? [扇(せん)風(ぷう)機(き) / エアコン] つけてもいいですか? [Senpuki / e-a-kon] tsukete mo ii desu ka?
Can I take a break? I’m feeling faint. めまいがします。少(すこ)し休(やす)んでもいいですか? Memai ga shimasu. Sukoshi yasunde mo ii desu ka?
Please help, [I am/they are] suffering from heat stroke. 熱(ねっ)中(ちゅう)症です。手(て)伝(てつ)だってください。 Necchusho desu. Tetsudatte kudasai.
Call an ambulance! 救(きゅう)急(きゅう)車(しゃ)をよんで! Kyukyusha o yonde!

Who to call in case of heat stroke

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A digital temperature shows 35 degrees celsius on a hot day in Shinjuku.

Heat stroke can be deadly, but symptoms range from mild to severe. The levels of heat stroke are:

  • Level 1 (mild): Dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea
  • Level 2 (moderate): Headache, nausea, fatigue
  • Level 3 (severe): Convulsions, hot dry skin, confusion, inability to walk straight, unconsciousness

If someone has fallen unconscious, do not hesitate to call an ambulance. If you are in doubt about whether to go to the doctor or call an ambulance, start with Tokyo EMS. You can use their simple self-check system online or dial #7119 to speak with a consultant. They will guide you on whether to go to the doctor or immediately call an ambulance.

While this is a Tokyo service, they should be able to guide you to the correct channels if you call from elsewhere. You can see more information about other regions here (Japanese).

In case of an emergency, immediately call 119. This is the emergency number for Japan and will connect you with someone to provide an ambulance.

Heat stroke prevention and tips to stay cool

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Use everything you can to stay cool.

Avoiding heat stroke in the first place is definitely the way to go, so here are some tips to keep cool.

Check for heat warnings

Check for heat warnings first if you have to go out during the day using a resource such as NHK (English). Generally, the middle of the day is the worst time to leave the house or office.

Drink plenty of water

One of the main causes of heat stroke is dehydration. Your body loses salt and water through sweat, so always carry water or sports drinks with you. As a general rule, drink more water than you think you need!

Use air conditioning

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You’re going to want to drop that a few more degrees.

Heat stroke can happen indoors, too. You might be tempted to avoid the air conditioning to save on electric bills, but you must put your health first. Some tips for making the most of your air-con are staying in one room, closing doors and curtains to trap in cold air, and keeping the temperature above 20°C to avoid overworking it.

For more info, check out our article on using an air conditioner in Japan.

Use cooling products

People in Japan are no stranger to hot summers, so there’s no shortage of cooling products. Some useful ones are cooling undershirts, such as the ones from Uniqlo and Triumph, parasols, cooling towels and portable fans.

Avoid exercise during the middle of the day

Combining strenuous activity and hot temperatures means your body can’t cool you down quick enough, so body heat accumulates, leading to heat stroke. If you want to exercise, choose a temperature-controlled environment like a gym or pool. Otherwise, opt for sunrise or sunset.

Useful resources

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How to survive summer in Japan.

To stay up to date with the latest information and avoid getting heat stroke yourself, there are a few apps and websites that are good to have under your belt.

  • NHK: Hourly heat stroke risk information by region, and various articles on avoiding heat stroke
  • MHLW: Various articles on preventing heat stroke by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
  • JMA: Weather information and heat stroke alerts from the Japan Meteorological Agency
  • Yahoo!: heat stroke alerts and information in Japanese
  • Yahoo!天気 (Apple / Google): Weather app in Japanese with heat stroke alerts

Hopefully, that has at the very least reminded you to go and drink some water! Keep cool in Japan’s hot summers and look after those around you.

Do you have any tips to stay extra cool during Japan’s summer? Share them in the comments below!

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