Friday 14 August 2020

July’s heatwave cost hundreds of lives, over 80s were hardest hit

Photo: Odi Busman

The heatwave at the end of July appears to have cost an additional 400 lives, the national statistics agency CBS said on Friday.

The heatwave resulted in record temperatures and the over 80s were particularly hard hit, accounting for some 300 of the extra deaths, the CBS said.

Eastern parts of the country were more severely affected, because the heatwave lasted longer away from the coast.

‘It was to be expected because the heat was intense,’ geriatrics professor Marcel Olde Rikkert told broadcaster NOS. ‘It caused me problems, so imagine how it was for people with little physical strength.’

Heatwave plan

Research by the Volkskrant during the July heatwave showed that the recommendations made in the national heatwave plan, brought into effect when the temperature tops 30 degrees, had saved ‘hundreds, if not thousands‘ of lives.

During the heatwaves of July 2013 and June 2015, fewer elderly people died than would have been expected during normal temperatures.

But in the heatwaves of 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, before the heatwave plan was introduced, the death toll among the elderly rose by an additional 3,000, the Volkskrant said.

The paper based its claim on an analysis of death statistics.

The heatwave plan offers advice to older people, the chronically sick and overweight people to drink enough water, wear thin clothing, avoid physical effort and stay in the shade. Parents are also urged to make sure young babies stay cool.

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