Heatwave, WHO Europe: “Disastrous effects, 1,700 deaths in Spain and Portugal ‘
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Heatwave, WHO Europe: “Disastrous effects, 1,700 deaths in Spain and Portugal ‘

Hans Kluge, regional director of the agency: “Extreme temperatures kill children and the elderly most at risk”

There are 1047 deaths attributable to the high temperatures of the heat wave that invaded Spain. This was notified by the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) managed by the Ministry of Health. In the period from 10 to 19 July, Monday and Tuesday were the days with the most estimated deaths: 184

But “climate change is not a new phenomenon”, warns WHO Europe in the face of the “ferocious fires” and “record high temperatures” that continue in this “torrid summer season which has only just reached the middle”. And the consequences of climate change “are growing year after year with disastrous results”, says the agency’s regional director, Hans Kluge. “Extreme heat kills”, he warns, recalling that “hundreds of thousands of people have died in the last few decades”.

But now, Kluge points out: “Forest fires, well known for their disastrous effects in southern Europe, are being observed as far as Scandinavia. In London this week, 41 houses were destroyed by the flames.” In addition to the fires, “exposure to extreme heat often exacerbates pre-existing health problems. Heatstroke and other severe forms of hyperthermia cause suffering and premature death”, with “children and the elderly particularly at risk”.

In the case of Spain, it is estimated that most (675 people) of the more than 1000 victims were over 85 years old, 241 were between 75 and 84 and another 88 between 65 and 74. The elderly are therefore the most exposed to the risk of life-threatening heat stroke: dehydration, decompensation or chronic diseases are risk factors that must be taken into consideration.

WHO Europe – explains the agency in a statement – is committed to supporting national and local authorities in preparing for events related to extreme heat. “Comprehensive action plans” which, “when operational, have been shown to save lives and strengthen the resilience of communities and people” in dealing with heatwaves.

The WHO Regional Office for Eurpa therefore provides citizens, health workers and those who take care of patients admitted to hospitals, retirement homes or other care facilities, 5 practical tips:

1) Stay as far away as possible from the heat, even at night, avoiding strenuous physical activities and making sure that children and animals are not left inside parked vehicles

2) Keep the body cool and hydrated, using loose and light clothing and sheets, taking cool showers or baths and drinking regularly, avoiding alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks; if possible, try to spend 2-3 hours of the day in a cool place

3) Keep the house as cool as possible by taking advantage of the night air and using curtains or blinds during the day

4) See a doctor if you have a chronic illness or are taking multiple medications. In case of dizziness, weakness or anxiety, intense thirst and intense headache, move to a cooler place

5) Help others by monitoring the health of family, friends and older people living alon