Payo ni Dr. Willie T. Ong
HEALTH: Heat Stroke Prevention Plan
EVERY YEAR, hundreds of Filipinos die from heat stroke. It’s about time we enact a program to prevent deaths and illness due to the hot weather. Both government and private sector can work together to ensure this.
Here are our 4 basic strategies:
1. Pag-asa to give 3-day advanced warning when the hot weather is coming.
2. Media and health professionals to provide information on how to prevent heat stroke.
3. Employers to provide basic needs and support to their employees to prevent heat stroke.
4. Government, private sector and faith groups to help vulnerable groups of people (poor and sick) during the hot weather.
Media play an important role in disseminating key health messages, as follows:
Stay out of the heat and keep cool:
• Keep out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
• If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
• Avoid extreme physical exertion.
• Wear light, loose-fitting and cotton clothes.
• Drink plenty of cold drinks, preferably 8-12 glasses of fluids a day.
• Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks.
• Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruits (watermelon, melon and cucumber) with a high water content.
• Take a cool shower or bath.
• Sprinkle water or place a damp cloth on the skin.
Keep your environment cool:
• Stay in cool areas at work and at home.
• This is especially important for infants, the elderly or those with chronic health conditions.
• Check the room temperature.
• Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when it is cooler.
• Turn off some of the lights and electrical equipment because they also give off heat.
• Keep indoor plants and place bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air
• Grow trees and leafy plants near windows to block the sun’s heat.
If you or others feel unwell:
• Get medical help if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache.
• Move to a cool place as soon as possible and measure your body temperature.
• Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate.
• If you have painful muscular spasms, drink oral rehydration solutions containing electrolytes.
• Consult a doctor if symptoms persist.
Look out for friends, coworkers and relatives:
• Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, sick or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool.
• Ensure that babies, children or elderly people are not left alone in stationary cars.
• Check on elderly, sick neighbors, family or friends regularly during hot weather.
• Store medicines in cool areas.
• Call a doctor if someone is sick.
Helping vulnerable groups in the community:
• We need to provide help to those most at risk, such as the poor, older people, and those with serious illness.
• The assistance could come from local authorities, health and social care services, communities, faith groups and families.
• Regular check on their water, food and medicines supply. Teach them on where to go and who to call for emergencies.
• Give advice to poor people and senior citizens on possible health benefits from PhilHealth and other government agencies.
Advice to hospitals and health-care facilities:
• Health workers to identify vulnerable patients.
• Provide cool areas and monitor indoor temperatures to reduce the risk of heat-related illness and death in patients. Advice to schools:
• Teacher or school physician/nurse can provide advice to parents and students regarding proper behaviors during hot weather, such as increasing fluid intake, and reducing sun exposure.
• Staff to remain fit and healthy during the hot weather.
How private companies and government can help:
• Employers to provide basic needs and support to their employees to prevent heat stroke.
• Allow frequent heatstroke breaks for employees, especially those who work outdoors.
• During the summer season, provide free cold drinking water to the public. A filtered drinking fountain can be installed in malls, churches, work areas (like construction companies) and public places.