Agency issues warning about heat shock danger from hot baths

TOKYO —

The Consumer Affairs Agency has issued a warning to elderly people to be careful when they soak in hot baths at home or at onsens, as well as spending too much time in saunas.

According to the agency, the number of victims who drowned after falling unconscious while taking a hot bath at home has increased by 70% or 4,866 people in the 10 years since 2004. Of that total, 90% were aged 65 and older, Fuji TV reported.

Most of the deaths, caused by heat shock, tend to occur from December to February, the agency said, with most fatalities reported in bathtubs.

The agency cautioned that when taking a hot bath, you can pass out due to blood pressure changes and also suffer from dizziness when standing up. 

The agency advises elderly people to warm up the bathroom before taking a bath, set the water temperature to 41 degrees or lower and not soak in hot water more than 10 minutes.

As for saunas, the agency said steam in many saunas are electrically generated and temperatures can rise to as much as 52 degrees Celsius. Falling asleep inside a sauna can cause blood circulatory problems, health officials say.

Going into a sauna while drunk can also cause the body to become dehydrated. Many hotels post warnings outside saunas, urging people not to go in if they have consumed a lot of alcohol.

Japan Today

  • 3

    miyakojimadan

    Personally, I find saunas suffocating. I always thought that a person could have serious problems including stroke by sitting in one of those for too long. The few times I have gone into one, I wash't able last more than 10 minutes.

  • 3

    Thunderbird2

    The one hot bath I've tried was very hot indeed... I got used to it over the time I was in there, but it was very very hot. My partner said it was because I was foreign... even though I stayed in longer than she did.

    I would think the heat shock would affect anyone, not just the elderly. If you aren't used to water that hot it could easily be a massive shock to your system, young or old.

  • 4

    mitokomonalex

    This warning comes 2 years late as I lost my mother-in-law during in the winter when she took a bath and the tragedy happend as the article says "The agency cautioned that when taking a hot bath, you can pass out due to blood pressure changes"

  • -1

    arcadius

    If you feel yourself getting dizzy after standing up from a hot bath (happens to me many times) tense up your legs until the feeling subsides. The tensing pushes blood to your head (jet fighter pilots use the same technique when doing high-G maneuvers to avoid passing out).

  • 3

    Thunderbird2

    The tensing pushes blood to your head (jet fighter pilots use the same technique when doing high-G maneuvers to avoid passing out).

    Jet fighter pilots actually wear inflatable trousers to squeeze their legs and lower abdomen to force the blood to the upper body... but the tensing in the bath no doubt could do the same thing... though I've never heard of tensing muscles sending blood back to the upper body without the aid of a G Suit.

  • 1

    Bartholomew Harte

    I wonder how many of these oldsters went to sleep on purpose, it seems to bequite a jump at 70 percent rise,

  • 0

    albaleo

    I wonder how many of these cases are caused by modern baths with a fixed temperature setting. Getting into a 42°C bath in winter and summer is quite different. Best to stick a hand in first.

  • 1

    AsianGaijinYesWeExist

    I shudder to think what would happen if these elderly folks like to eat mochi while soaking in hot baths.

  • 2

    Farmboy

    Warning, yes we need lots of warnings. Hey, look, if you are a Japanese adult and don't know this stuff, you probably aren't going to read the warnings and do anything differently either.

    Meanwhile, don't stand on the top step of any ladders... you could fall.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    This happens WAY too often. There have even been incidents at my gym with older people, although fortunately ther are people to help them when/if they pass out.

  • 0

    shonanbb

    41 is chilly

  • 0

    Grant Chesley

    @shonanbb That is 41C, which is 106F. That's definitely on the warm side, even for a hot tub.

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