Random Image Display on Page Reload

Take heat warnings seriously

BOTH the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) issued warnings to the public this week over the likelihood that many parts of the country will experience increasing heat waves in the coming months as a consequence of the El Niño climate phenomenon. Although recent bouts of rain that have even caused flooding in some areas may make the forecast of higher temperatures and drought seem far-fetched, the warning should be taken seriously.

A woman holds an umbrella to shield herself from the sun’s glare while crossing the EDSA-Kamuning intersection in Quezon City on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTEA woman holds an umbrella to shield herself from the sun’s glare while crossing the EDSA-Kamuning intersection in Quezon City on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

A woman holds an umbrella to shield herself from the sun’s glare while crossing the EDSA-Kamuning intersection in Quezon City on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

According to meteorologists, the month of July was the hottest ever recorded on planet Earth, a consequence of climate change and the periodic El Niño, which is characterized by an increase in sea temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean. An estimated 4 out of 5 people worldwide have been affected by hotter temperatures this year, and that includes people in much of the Philippines. Again, though the recent wet and thankfully somewhat cooler weather might give a different impression, we have already experienced dangerous heat conditions in some parts of the country this summer. These spells have been mercifully brief, but they may last longer and be more widespread as the El Niño intensifies over the next few months.

In other countries where heat waves have already lasted an extended period of time, there have been thousands of deaths. Some estimates run as high as 20,000, but the exact number is difficult to determine since many deaths are recorded as being from cardiac arrest or organ failure instead of heat stress, which often does not leave any other tell-tale evidence in the body. Anyone at any age is susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke; ironically, many victims are younger and healthier people, since they are the least likely to recognize when they are being overcome by heat.

Even if heat exposure does not lead to immediate death, an advisory from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warned that experiencing a core body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) can lead to organ damage, particularly the kidneys.

A recent study in the US found that agricultural workers are most at risk and are about 35 times more likely to die from heat than other workers; construction workers are about 14 times more likely to suffer heat deaths. The study did emphasize, however, that anyone who is exposed to high outdoor temperatures for an extended period of time is potentially putting themselves in danger.

How to protect oneself

The cautions provided by Pagasa and the CCC this week are not the first time that government agencies have issued public service advisories about the risks of high temperatures, and we have previously highlighted the issue here as well. The risk of death or serious injury from heat is so serious, however, that the warnings and advice on how to protect oneself ought to be repeated and shared as widely as possible before dangerous temperatures are experienced. One of the lethal characteristics of heat stroke and heat exhaustion is that the early warning signs are often difficult to recognize; often, by the time the victim or those around him realize something is wrong, only swift medical intervention can save his life.

There are a number of simple ways one can avoid becoming a victim, however. In general, limiting one's exposure to high temperatures — a heat index, or “feels like” temperature of 40 C or higher — is the best choice. If staying indoors is not an option, such as for people who must work outdoors, following the “shade-rest-water” rule at least once per hour is vital: Get out of the direct sun, rest from strenuous activity for a short period of time, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes, and drink plenty of water.

Finally, if you begin to feel discomfort such as fatigue or fever-like symptoms, immediately notify someone, go indoors or to a cooler location, and take steps to cool down, such as taking a cool bath or shower or applying wet cloths to the head and neck, as one would do to relieve a fever. Drink plenty of fluids as well; water or sports drinks that are room temperature (not very cold) are recommended, while sugary drinks or soda should be avoided.

*****
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

Check Also

Should mandatory ROTC be revived?

THOSE pushing for the revival of the Reserve Officers Training Corps or ROTC anchor their …