Heat wave: Danger to life for older and small children

For some, it is the pinnacle of summer feelings. For others, temperatures above 30 degrees, as announced for the next few days, are pure torture and sometimes even dangerous. The risk of death increases from as little as 30 degrees Celsius. We explain to you what you absolutely must take care of when setting record temperatures and what groups of people you need to take care of.

In the coming days it will be hot in Germany. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday may even scratch the 35 degrees locally, especially in central and southern Germany. After a short cooling down, the heat was to start again on Sunday.

While some rejoice and enjoy the hot summer days, others really struggle – even to serious health problems. Extreme heat strains the lungs, heart and psyche – and can be a serious danger. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wrote down over the weekend Twitteryou need it now elderly and sick people protect against the heat wave. “Liquid supplies, fans, talk about the importance of hydration. Be available.” He even feared fatalities.On very hot days, clinics are prepared to bring patients with heat-related symptoms such as dehydration and circulatory problems to the emergency room.

Heat is also particularly dangerous for babies, young children, pregnant women and the chronically ill. takes certain medicine can also make you more susceptible to heat-related health problems.

Heatwave: who is most exposed?

People over 65 and people with chronic pre-existing disorders especially suffer from the effects of the heat wave – especially if they drink too little. High temperatures increase the risk of falls, dehydration, confusion and circulatory problems up to and including circulation stoppages.

The body protects itself from the high outdoor temperatures with “evaporative cooling”: It occurs when sweat evaporates on the skin and cools it down. However, this protection mechanism can be significantly reduced in older people. Medications can also help a person sweat less than necessary. If it is no longer possible to cool down by sweating, there is a threat heat build-up: Blood vessels in arms and legs dilate, blood pressure drops. Decreased blood flow to the brain can lead to unconsciousness. If the whole body overheats – the temperature can then rise to over 40 degrees in a short time – there is also a risk of brain swelling. Also like this heat stroke can end fatally.

Babies and young children are also at risk: they are less able to adapt to high temperatures than adults, they produce less sweat and their skin surface area is larger relative to their body weight.

Wie dangerous are the hot days?

From a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius we are talking about hot days. During a heat wave it is above 30 degrees during the day for several days and the temperature does not fall below 20 degrees at night. If the body cannot recover adequately at night, heat-related stress increases and dangerous heat build-up or life-threatening heat stroke can occur. It becomes especially dangerous when the outside temperature exceeds the body temperature (about 37 degrees Celsius). The body can then no longer give off the heat to the outside.

For the particularly hot summers 2018 to 2020, experts have recently calculated a markedly increased number heat-related mortality: “Especially the year 2018, with an estimated number of about 8,700 heat-related deaths, is of the same order of magnitude as the historical heat years in 1994 and 2003 (about 10,000 deaths each)”, wrote researchers from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)), the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the German Weather Service (DWD) recently in the “Deutsches Ärzteblatt”. Researchers estimate 6,900 heat-related deaths in 2019 and 3,700 in 2020.

Adequate fluid for seniors and children

Water is everything when it’s hot – it applies to both young and old. However, older people need to be more hydrated than younger ones because the risk of dehydration increases with age. The reasons lie in insufficient fluid intake and possibly greater fluid loss. In old age, the feeling of thirst often decreases and people drink less.

Drinking water is important, especially in sufficient quantities (at least 2 liters per day). (Photo: CCO Public Domain / pixabay / Baudolino)

It should be at least two liters of water a day. It is best to drink a glass of water every hour – even if you are not thirsty, this is the recommendation of the federal environmental agency in its heat etiquette. “Recommended drinks in hot weather: tap water, mineral water, chilled herbal tea without added sugar, tea with mint and lemon. Important: do not drink ice cold!”

It can be helpful to place several glasses of water in frequently used places in the apartment, eg next to the refrigerator, in the hallway and in the bathroom.

Heating schedule: basic rules for hot days

Everyone should protect themselves from the heat – no matter how old they are:

  • Keep rooms cool, ventilate only early in the morning and at night. Keep windows closed and blinds down during the day.
  • Limit outdoor activities to the cooler mornings and evenings. Children should play in the shade.

Weakness, fever, severe headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea and muscle spasms are warning signs. You should take the affected to a cool place, cool them with damp cloths, lift the legs, give them something to drink and call the doctor.

Here you will find tips and home remedies to help with circulatory problems.

With material from dpa.

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Keywords: hot climate protection drink

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