As part of our efforts to save energy in the wake of the March 11 disaster, this summer we are asked to curb our use of air-conditioning. Air-conditioning accounts for more than half of the electricity consumed by Japanese households at the peak time of 2 p.m. If we don’t use air-conditioning, however, we’ll be at risk of developing Netchu-sho or heat stroke. Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia, in which the body temperature is elevated dramatically and can occur even if you stay indoors.
Symptoms, signs, and treatment
Heat stroke can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated. Cooling the victim is a critical step in the treatment of heat stroke.
- Dizziness, muscle cramps & aches, and sweating profusely
By the Environmental Ministry’s definition, the above symptoms indicate Severity Level 1. Get to a shady area, loosen clothing, take a lot of fluids such as sports drinks or cool water.
- Pounding headache, nausea/vomiting, and fatigue
This is Severity Level 2 by the same definition. Get to a shady area, loosen clothing, and lie down and elevate your feet. Take a lot of fluids such as sports drinks or cool water. If water is not available, see a doctor immediately.
- Strange behavior (cannot respond to questions properly), disorientation, extremely high body temperature, seizure, and/or coma. This is considered Severity Level 3. First and foremost, cool the victim. Call an ambulance immediately (Dial 119). While waiting for ambulance arrival, put the victim in the shade, loosen clothing, and place ice packs around the neck, armpits, and groin. Spray the victim with cool water and fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation. If the victim is able to drink liquids, give them cool water.
Things you can do to prevent heat stroke (PDF/712KB)
The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
- Maintain normal body temperature
Dress lightly or keep wet towels readily available for use. You can spray water over you and then fan yourself to promote sweating and evaporation.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Fresh vegetables and fruits will help cool your body.
- Buy cooling items
This summer, many cooling items are available at stores. Apply them to areas with thick veins such as around your neck, armpits, and groin.
- Use 28 degrees C as a guide to watch for heat stroke. Staying in the same room for a long time makes it harder for you to notice a rise of your body temperature.
Tips for energy-efficient use of air-conditioners
- Clean the filters once every two weeks by either vacuum-cleaner or washing in water
- Set the air-conditioner temperature at 28 degrees C
- Use fans to enhance flow of cool air
- Keep an outdoor air-conditioning unit under a shade
- Do not block the air outlets of outdoor units
- When you come home, open the windows first to ventilate the rooms before turning on the air-conditioner
For more information about heat stroke, visit the Environmental Ministry’s website at the following address. (In Japanese)
Heat Stroke Prevention Manual by the Environmental Ministry
(Effective July 2011)