12 April 2024 - Thailand

As Thailand gears up to celebrate world’s ‘biggest water fight’, extreme weather risks dampening children’s joy

Save the Children press release

BANGKOK, 12 April – Children in Thailand are at risk of heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses as the country heads towards extremely hot weather during its annual Songkran festival, sometimes dubbed the world’s biggest water fight, said Save the Children.

The country’s meteorological department has warned “hot to very hot” weather[1] will hit the Thailand during the festival, which starts on 13 April, which may put children’s health at risk. In severe heat, infants and small children are more likely to die or suffer from heatstroke because they are unable or lack agency to regulate their body temperature and control their surrounding environment[2].

Many countries in the region are experiencing hotter and drier weather because of El Nino - a natural climate phenomenon brought about by changes in sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean. Last year was the hottest since records began in 1850.[3]

Thai schools are currently on summer break and the annual holiday sees many families travelling for leisure or to reunite or to celebrate the festival with loved ones. However, with Thailand’s meteorological department warning this week that temperatures will hit 43 degrees in the northernmost parts of the country[4], and its health ministry saying that children, the elderly, and those with underlying health issues were most at risk from heat strokes, the holiday may be far less joyful for many families.

Across Southeast Asia, concerns over extreme heat have prompted authorities to issue similar advisories. Earlier this month in the Philippines, heatwaves forced schools closed across the country, while a new analysis by Save the Children shows that one in two out-of-school children and adolescents live in countries at the forefront of the climate crisis.[5]

Guillaume Rachou, Executive Director, Save the Children Thailand:

“This is supposed to be a time for fun in Thailand but soaring temperatures and heat stress are dampening the mood. Children are more vulnerable to heat-related health stress and risks than adults and care need to be taken at this time to ensure that they do not succumb to heat-related illnesses. We need to see urgent action now to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Failing to do this will have dramatic consequences for children’s health, safety, and wellbeing.”

In Southeast Asia, exposure to higher-than-average temperatures during early years has been linked to children attending fewer years of schooling.[6]

Save the Children has worked in Thailand since 1979. Save the Children Thailand works to support children who are most impacted by discrimination and inequality through programmes on education, child protection, livelihood and child rights governance.




[1] https://www.tmd.go.th

[2] https://www.unicef.org/stories/heat-waves-impact-children#:~:text=Heat%20stress%20can%20lead%20to,issues%20due%20to%20congenital%20defects.

[3] https://wmo.int/media/news/wmo-confirms-2023-smashes-global-temperature-record

[4] https://www.thairath.co.th/news/local/bangkok/2777890

[5] https://www.savethechildren.net/news/half-out-school-children-live-countries-most-vulnerable-climate-change-philippines-latest-shut

[6] https://www.unicef.org/media/105376/file/UNICEF-climate-crisis-child-rights-crisis.pdf


For further enquiries please contact:

Amy Lefevre, Global Media Manager, Asia (based in Bangkok): Amy.Lefevre@savethechildren.org

Our media out of hours (BST) contact is media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44(0)7831 650409

Please also check our Twitter account @Save_GlobalNews for news alerts, quotes, statements and location Vlogs.

We stand side by side with children in the world's toughest places.