6 June 2024

Sixty-one people died of heat stroke during the first four months of this year in Thailand, 33 of whom were in the north-eastern region.

Dr. Apichart Wachiraphan, deputy director-general of the Disease Control Department, said that most of the victims were elderly but of working age, farm and manual workers in particular, with more males dying than females.

The risk factors for death from heat stroke are heavy alcohol consumption, 62.1%, those with underlying diseases, 49.2% and people working outdoors, 27.6%.

The doctor said that anyone with a high body temperature, but without sweating, a rapid and strong heartbeat, headache, speaks incoherently or faints should be presumed to be suffering from heat stroke.

First aid treatment includes placing the victim in the shade, supine (face up) with their legs raised. Remove sufficient clothing to enable the application of a towel soaked in cold water to the torso or place ice cubes under the neck and armpits. Use an electric fan to cool the victim down. If the victim is conscious, give them water or electrolyte drinks and take them the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

He also said that motorists must never leave any child (or pet) in a car in direct sunlight without air-conditioning, noting that the temperature inside a car can rise to life threatening levels in under 20 minutes if the air-conditioner is not operating.

To limit the chance of heat stroke, avoid any activity in direct sunlight, especially between 11am and 3pm, he added.