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Protecting people’s health from summer heat
Summer 2016 has definitely arrived and people are quite busy enjoying their “cool biz” activities and, for others, preparing for their much-awaited “natsu-yasumi” (summer vacation). Yet, caution and prudence are necessary as exposure to excessive heat has been a growing public health risk – for every degree Centigrade above a threshold level, deaths can increase by 2 to 5 percent.
13 years ago, the extended heat of the European summer 2003 caused a rise in death rates that was 4 to 5 times higher than expected levels at the peak of the event in some cities, eventually causing over 70 000 additional deaths across 12 countries. Contributing to the heightened risk was the phenomenon called “urban heat island effect” which can raise temperatures by more than 5°C in urban settings compared to rural settings. High temperatures, as we are aware of, exacerbate the harmful effects of ozone and particulate air pollution…
read more: World Health Organization
At the individual level, it is important to be reminded about the following updated proposed tips for dealing with heat during summer:
- Be prepared to adapt to heat and behave appropriately.
- Limit sun exposure during midday hours.
- Drink lots of fresh water, regularly.
- Wear smart, lightweight, short-sleeved, loose-fitting, cotton clothing (Practise “cool business”/”cool biz”).
- Use sun protective products when outdoors.
- Eat fruits and vegetables; avoid heavy meals, alcoholic drinks and too much coffee.
- Refrain from smoking.
- Know the signs and symptoms of heat disorders and be ready to give first aid treatment, as appropriate.
- Pay attention to your environment.
- Adjust the setting of your air conditioner at home or in the office as close to the outdoor temperature as possible, up to 28°C. Use of fans is encouraged.
- During the hotter times of the day, keep your windows shaded, if there is direct exposure to the sun. Seek shade.
- Turn off unnecessary heat-producing devices (e.g., incandescent light bulbs, etc).
- Keep yourself informed of health advisories by listening to local weather and news channels or by contacting local health departments.
Extreme heat can be damaging to health, and may endanger the lives of the more vulnerable: babies, young children, older people, the poor, the homeless, the medically frail, and those with disabilities. The fact is that any person can be at increased risk from heat, especially for those who participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.