It is still projections that the Federal Statistical Office has published, but the experts do not doubt what the numbers show: In July, twelve percent more people died in Germany due to the heat than the average for the years 2018 to 2021. This is increasing a trend: heat deaths in Braunschweig, Trier, Schwerin or Füssen will no longer be the exception in the future.
Now it is easy and not wrong to first point to politics.
Doctors have been warning for years that climate change will put a strain on the health of citizens and the healthcare system.
However, their call for preventive action to be taken has largely gone unheeded.
Germany still has no uniform heat emergency or heat action plan, there are no targeted educational campaigns and no functioning crisis communication.
Individual states or individual municipalities are certainly in a better position than the rest when it comes to heat protection. But, like the corona pandemic, increasing heat waves cannot be combated by every mayor alone.
A national effort is needed here.
Heat kills hidden
Heat means stress for the body.
If it gets too hot for him, he tries everything he can to keep his body temperature at 37 degrees.
To do this, it pumps the blood to the periphery so that heat can be released through the skin.
It also produces sweat.
If the body temperature continues to rise, organ damage and increased clotting of the blood occur.
Heat death as the cause of death is almost never found in the documents.
The people affected die of a heart attack, kidney failure, metabolic disorders or fall badly.
Heat kills in secret, but the statistically measurable excess mortality in hot weeks no longer allows for cover-up.
Heat waves will increase in our latitudes in the future.
Not only will they cause more deaths, but also more sick people and more absenteeism.
For politicians, this means that they urgently need to find out where there is a lack of knowledge and resources for heat protection.
It needs to educate about who is at risk and what can be done about it.
The state must ensure sufficient air, coolness and shade, especially in urban areas, and set structural and organizational requirements for clinics, nursing homes, day care centers and schools.
He needs to make sure heat warnings get through everywhere.
But even if politicians took the necessary money into their own hands, they will not be able to do it alone.
In order for heat protection to work, healthcare providers and the general public need to rethink.
Heat protection is not only a political task, but concerns society as a whole as well as each individual.
Doctors and other health care workers must do their part to ensure that patients get through the heat well.
Just warning and encouraging others to invest is not enough.
Practice rooms and patient rooms must be kept cool and water dispensers must be provided.
Heat education should be a regular subject of medical consultations, and vulnerable groups should receive specific training.
As with other emergencies, help must be available for heat injuries.
There is no denying that nursing is excessively overburdened.
Nevertheless, heat protection must be given higher priority in nursing homes.
Older people who don't drink enough need to be reminded, no matter how much else there is to do.
A glass of water can save you from serious suffering, as can a roller shutter that is lowered in good time.
In any case, heat protection in many areas of German healthcare is currently not as important as its health benefits, which have been underestimated up to now.
And the society?
It's still firmly anchored in many heads, you can get over a few hot days.
The majority of the population is not aware that high outside temperatures demand a lot from even healthy organisms.
Concentration, energy and physical performance drop drastically in hot weather.
The German summers will be different, they will lose a bit of their light-heartedness.
As a health threat, heat needs to be much more of a focus and responsibility needs to be taken – for oneself and for others.
It may sound theatrical, but calling grandpa to remind him to drink or a fan in the chronically ill neighbor's attic apartment can save lives when it's getting hotter and hotter in Germany.