CPS: Stay cool and hydrated as extremely hot weather can cause sickness

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Minister Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten – Heatwaves are among the most dangerous of natural hazards that have a significant impact on society, Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) said on Tuesday.

CPS says extremely hot weather can make you sick.  Individuals should stay cool and hydrated.  Extremely hot weather can cause sickness or in severe cases even death.

Heat stress is heat-related illness caused by your body’s inability to cool down properly.  The body normally cools itself by sweating, but under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough.  In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly.  Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

Heat-related illnesses or death are preventable if you follow a few simple steps.  During the hottest hours of the day stay out of the sun.

Stay in an air-conditioned area or well ventilated cool area. If you don’t have air conditioning make, use of public places such as shops, a shopping mall or go to the library to stay cool.

Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.  Drink water often; invest in a water bottle to keep with you at all times and refill as soon as it is empty.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty.  Make it a habit to take a sip every now and then.  Drink at least two litres of water per day.

Avoid unnecessary strenuous physical activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning. Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. When in the sun, avoid unnecessary sun exposure, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim and use shades to protect your eyes from ultra violet over exposure.

A cool and/or shaded environment is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to cool air for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.

Heat or hot weather that lasts for several days, often referred to as “a heatwave” can have a significant impact on society, including a rise in mortality and morbidity. Heatwaves also place an increased strain on infrastructure (power, water and transport). Clothes and food retailing, tourism and ecosystem services can also be affected, such that there may be socioeconomic “winners and losers” from heatwave events. In some instances, heatwaves may even trigger social disturbances at a number of levels.

The impacts of heatwaves can be great and sometimes catastrophic, as manifested by the large number of heat-related deaths recorded across Europe in July and August 2003, and the Russian Federation in July and August 2010.

Over the past 50 years, hot days, hot nights and heatwaves have become more frequent throughout the world.  Extreme heat or hot weather that lasts for several days is often referred to as a ‘heat wave.’

The length, frequency and intensity of heatwaves will likely increase over most land areas during this century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Recently, both India and Pakistan have been hit by deadly heatwaves, killing hundreds of people.

CPS, reminds the public of Sint Maarten to take the necessary measures to protect themselves against heat-related illness.