Thailand experiencing temperatures hotter than human body can handle as people warned to stay indoors
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Thailand is currently in the grip of some extreme weather, with temperatures set to reach heights beyond what the human body can comfortably withstand.
The humidity is very important, because if temperatures are high and humidity is also high the human body struggles to cool down because sweat cannot evaporate on skin in the humid air.
That can cause serious problems for the human body, as the body can become hyperthermic above 40C, which can cause symptoms such as high pulse, lack of sweating, fainting, and even coma.
High heat and humidity can mean that people’s bodies can no longer regulate internal temperature. With that in mind, authorities in the country have urged people to stay indoors to avoid the extreme heat, as some places have already been measured at a heat index of around 54 degrees.
The Thai Meteorological Department has issued warnings across the country, with the heat index forecast to be around 54 degrees Celsius in the east of the country, as well as in the south and on the island of Phuket.
Bangkok has been experiencing temperature of around 37 degrees Celsius over the past few days, which feels more like 40 degrees with the humidity.
However, according to experts, this does not yet constitute a heatwave.
Somkuan Tonjan, the director of the Weather Inspection and Surveillance Division at the national Metrological Department, told local news: “It’s not like a heat wave like what happened in India and Bangladesh where temperatures topped 40° C for several days, and the accumulation of heat and the average temperature has increased as high as 5° C per day.”
However, these temperatures are still expected to continue, which could have serious health concerns for some.
Choawat Siwapornshai, a Bangkok meteorologist, said: “In Thailand, April is the hottest month of the year. For the past few weeks, Thailand has experienced a hot spell which is an above-average temperature event but not extreme as the heatwave, especially in the north and the northeast.
“The fading away of La Nina and a high probability of El Nino developing later this year, I would expect normal to above normal temperatures for the rest of the summer.”
There are additional concerns about fires in the country, caused both by the extreme heat and farmers illegally burning fields, which contributes to poor air quality.
Ploy Pattanun Achakulwisut, a research fellow with the Stockholm Environment Institute, Asia Center, said that the country faces a ‘double whammy’ of crises that could affect public health.
She said: “Climate change and air pollution are two different public health crises we are facing in Thailand and Southeast Asia, but they both share two major root causes - namely, burning fossil fuels and agricultural burning (along with other land-use practices) that lead to the release of global-warming pollutants (like carbon dioxide) and creation of dangerous levels of air pollutants (like PM2.5, ozone) that cause premature death and illnesses.
“For example, outdoor agricultural workers in the north are facing a double whammy of extreme heat.”