The health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK, a national Hajj/Umrah-specific organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims, have issued a warning to prospective pilgrims from around the world converging at Makkah for this year’s Hajj season. The temperature in Makkah during the month of August can reach up to 45°C. Pilgrims must make every effort to protect themselves from heat exhaustion and heat strokes which can be fatal if not properly or promptly treated.

Fatigue caused by intense heat was one of the contributory factors to the 2015 Hajj stampede disaster that took the lives of about 3,000 innocent pilgrims. The temperature in Makkah at that time had reached up to 46°C; pilgrims were already dehydrated and fainting even before the stampede.

Health experts warn that Hajj pilgrims, specifically old aged and those who are suffering from chronic diseases, are at high risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke due to overcrowding, lack of acclimatisation, strenuous physical activity, and dehydration. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can develop quickly. Signs of heat exhaustion can include: tiredness, weakness, feeling faint or dizzy, a decrease in blood pressure, a headache, muscle cramps, feeling and being sick, heavy sweating, intense thirst, having a rapid pulse, urinating less often and having much darker urine than usual.

Pilgrims should take every precaution to protect themselves from heat stroke while they are out under the blazing sun. They should cover their head or use an umbrella wherever possible. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can also be avoided by drinking plenty of water, taking a cool shower or bath, sprinkling water over the skin or clothing, and keeping a damp cloth on the back of neck.

To minimise the effects of heat exhaustion and stroke, pilgrims should seek medical assistance straightaway; the delay can lead to more severe symptoms. “Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be fatal— take this risk seriously,” said the health experts in the joint statement.