PAHO warns Caribbean & North and Central America of impending heatwaves

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    The Caribbean, as well as North and Central America are being warned to prepare for heatwaves in the coming weeks.

    According to the Pan American Health Organization, weather forecasts for the region are predicting the natural phenomenon, which is defined as a prolonged period of excessive heat.

    PAHO warns that this could have a significant impact on peoples’ health, including the risk of death.

    It says these tips could help in preventing the harmful effects of heatwaves:

    • Stay tuned to weather alerts and forecasts
    • Avoid sun exposure between 11am and 4pm
    • Do not leave children or older persons in parked vehicles
    • Do not exercise or engage in intense outdoor activities without proper protection
    • Drink water every 2 hours, even if you aren’t thirsty
    • Keep the home cool by covering windows during the day and using air conditioners or fans during the hottest hours
    • If you have a chronic disease and take drugs, consult your doctor

    It says persons should also know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat strokes.

    Heat exhaustion:

    • Heavy sweating
    • Cool, pale skin
    • Temperature < 40º C
    • Dizziness or faintness
    • Headache
    • Rapid breathing
    • Weak, rapid pulse

    Heat stroke:

    • Red, hot, and dry skin
    • Temperature > 40ºC
    • Throbbing headache
    • Unconscious or in a coma
    • Rapid, strong pulse

    This is what PAHO says should be done if there are signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

    • The individual should receive medical care at hospital
    • Stop all physical activity
    • Call an ambulance immediately
    • Go to or move the affected person to a cool site
    • Use any physical means to facilitate cooling (such as cooling the head and body down with water and fanning the person to reduce their temperature)