Heat­stroke can be avoided, and so can the emer­gency


As tem­per­a­tures rise, wear loose-fit­ting cloth­ing, drink wa­ter reg­u­larly, stay­ing away from fizzy drinks and promptly re­port episodes of headache and nausea to pre­vent heat­stroke, and a spell in hospi­tal.

That is the ad­vice from a lead­ing doc­tor as the UAE sum­mer con­tin­ues to rage.

“Preven­tion is the key word for pro­tec­tion against the sun. Whether you work out­doors or not, two to three glasses of wa­ter ev­ery hour is ideal.

There must be ad­e­quate fluid in­take be­cause the am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture is high,” said Dr Alai Taggu, head of crit­i­cal care medicine at Aster Hospi­tal.

“Plain wa­ter with le­mon is ad­vis­able, def­i­nitely not car­bon­ated drinks and not tea or cof­fee, since that causes us to per­spire more.”

Work­ers who are on di­uret­ics to treat high blood pres­sure or on heart med­i­ca­tion such as beta block­ers should be dou­bly care­ful be­cause these can in­ter­fere with the body’s re­sponse to heat.

“Many work­ers tend to have hy­per­ten­sion and are tak­ing such med­i­ca­tion be­cause of the na­ture of their work.

“Di­uret­ics flush wa­ter from the body so can add to de­hy­dra­tion. This in­creases the risk of heat stroke for al­ready high-risk pa­tients,” he said.

A per­son with heat­stroke symp­toms such as headache and nausea should be moved to a cool, shaded area be­cause if they are left unat­tended the con­se­quences are po­ten­tially deadly, rang­ing from turn­ing deliri­ous to even­tu­ally slip­ping into a coma and suf­fer­ing multi-or­gan fail­ure.

“Su­per­vi­sors must check that work­ers do not sleep in cars be­cause keep­ing the air con­di­tion­ing on will not be enough.

“The tem­per­a­ture of a per­son can shoot up and they get de­hy­drated very quickly,” said Dr Taggu, who has had to treat many work­ers who were brought in be­cause they dozed off in ve­hi­cles ex­posed to sun­light.

The warn­ing comes as out­door work­ers pre­pare for the start of the manda­tory sum­mer mid­day break on Fri­day.

While call­ing for emer­gency med­i­cal help, quick mea­sures that can be taken in­clude re­moval of ex­cess cloth­ing, dous­ing the per­son with a hose – avail­able on most con­struc­tion sites – and plac­ing ice packs or cold tow­els on the per­son’s body.

“A per­son’s men­tal state and be­hav­iour will be dif­fer­ent, they may be­come ir­ri­ta­ble, their skin will be flushed dur­ing a heat stroke.

“If a pa­tient is not sweat­ing, this means they are al­ready in a stage of heat ex­haus­tion. Once the body over­heats then emer­gency treat­ment is a race against time,” said the crit­i­cal care spe­cial­ist.

“Rather than rush­ing a per­son to the hospi­tal if checks and mea­sures are put in place, emer­gency sit­u­a­tions can be avoided.”

In ac­cor­dance with gov­ern­ment rules, wa­ter, vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments and shel­ter must be avail­able at all work sites to meet health and safety re­quire­ments.

The law man­dates that work­ers are not as­signed out­door tasks be­tween 12.30pm and 3pm be­tween June 15 and Septem­ber 15.

Preven­tion is the key word for pro­tec­tion against the sun … whether you work out­doors or not DR ALAI TAGGU Aster Hospi­tal

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