As the Caribbean Blog Authority, I am making an exception to write this blog.With this blog I like to reach policymakers/governments from the total Caribbean region so they can start to prepare for what is coming. Read further and feel free to share this information.
The Pan-American health organization (PAHO) has urged the Caribbean countries to prepare for heat waves. While Europe is experiencing heat waves, North America, Central America and the Caribbean are also at risk. The situation could deteriorate between July and August, with a negative impact on human health, says the PAHO.
Given the current heat waves in Europe and the predictions that this phenomenon will affect different parts of America, the PAHO urges countries in the region to prepare. The organization warns of the impact that the heat waves could have on people’s health, including the risk of death.
During the summer of the southern hemisphere of 2018-2019, seven countries in North and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) were hit by heat waves, a phenomenon that has never been in the region before perceived. The heat waves that had the greatest impact since 2000 were those in Brazil that caused the death of 737 people in 2010, and those in Argentina in the summer of 2013-2014 that caused 1,877 deaths. The heat in Argentina left 800,000 people without energy, which increased the heat stress in this group. According to health authorities in the United States, heat waves are the natural phenomenon that causes the highest number of deaths in that country.
Weather forecasts for North America, Central America and the Caribbean predict heat waves during the summer (July / August) of 2019. This can cause drought-induced stress, lead to forest fires and have harmful effects on human health.
Due to the situation, the PAHO has developed a guide to help countries in the region formulate emergency plans to tackle heat waves. This guide provides recommendations that the health sector and meteorological authorities can implement to prepare for and better respond to this threat, promote health, prevent the harmful effects of heat waves, treat affected people and save lives.
The document emphasizes that emergency plans for emergencies must be able to determine the extent of the threat, with activation procedures for alerts, a description of roles and functions, and coordination mechanisms within and between authorities. The document also emphasizes that countries need to strengthen the epidemiological surveillance of heat-related morbidity and mortality, the capacity of health services (staff training, improvements in the design of new hospitals and equipment of existing hospitals in high-risk areas). Improving the actions of local authorities, the media and communities in terms of response measures between agencies, prevention measures and self-care should be improved.
Heat exposure causes serious symptoms such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke (a condition that causes faintness, as well as dry, warm skin, due to the body’s inability to control high temperatures). Most heat-related deaths are due to deterioration of the circulatory system, kidney, hormonal, and psychiatric disorders. Other symptoms include fluid retention in the lower limbs, heat rashes in the neck, cramps, headache, irritability, lethargy and weakness.
People with chronic illnesses who take medication on a daily basis run a greater risk of complications and death during a heat wave, as well as the elderly and children.
To prevent the harmful effects of heat, the PAHO recommends:
– Stay informed of weather warnings and forecasts;
– Avoid sun exposure between 11 o’clock in the morning and 4 o’clock in the afternoon;- Do not leave children or elderly people in parked vehicles;
– Do not train or do intense outdoor activities without proper protection;- Drink water every 2 hours, even if you are not thirsty;
– Keep the house cool by covering windows during the day and using air conditioners or fans during the hottest hours.
– If you have a chronic illness and are taking medication, consult your doctor.