In South Africa we have witnessed a gripping drought in the Western Cape, devastating heavy rains, fires, flooding and strong winds caused by an upper-air cut-off low in October 2017 in Durban and regular heatwave and fire risk warnings in several provinces. One foremost cause of weather-related deaths is heat (leading to heatstroke), which is on the rise as towns and cities across South Africa shatter record all-time high temperatures year-on-year.
In January 2016, for example, the North-West Health Department reported that 11 people (aged 22–58 years) died over a period of 48 h in the province from heatstroke. Deaths among groups such as the elderly, those with chronic disease and infants rise during heatwaves. These deaths may not be directly related to ‘heat shock’, but to the additional physiological stress associated with high heat. While there is some uncertainty as to whether these weather events are linked to climate change, the increase in heat levels generally, extreme weather events and
current climate predictions for warming temperatures are strongly indicative that this is the case.